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What is a “Diversion Program” and Who Can Use One?

In its most simple definition, a Diversion Program is a rehabilitation program for criminals meant to prevent a conviction and a criminal record. However, the details of where, what kind, and who is eligible are different from state-to-state and county-to-county. Diversion inside the criminal justice system can take many forms. When police officers let a motorist go with a warning instead of a speeding ticket, this is a personal decision to enact diversion, coined “informal diversion”. However, most diversion involves a formal program. Encyclopaedia Britannica outlines some of the more formal types of diversion: Post-Arrest Social Service Programs – An example of this would be a substance abuser who enters a detox program. This approach addresses the root cause of their behavior to prevent it from happening again. Upon completion of these programs, the case will return to the courts for dismissal. If the program isn’t completed or stipulations aren’t met, the case will proceed within the court system. Jail Diversion Programs – This type of program keeps the offender from serving jail time while waiting to appear in court. This type of diversion begins when a police officer writes a summons to appear in court or after an arrest and booking at the police station. This allows the offender to maintain their job or other responsibilities while awaiting their court date. Pre-trial and Post-Conviction Diversion – Some diversion programs begin after an arrest, but before the offender enters a plea in court. However, even after conviction, a judge may opt to sentence an offender to a diversion program instead of incarceration. This takes many forms, such as probation, restitution, and community service. Diversion programs are usually offered to first-time offenders or those who have committed nonviolent crimes. The goal in diversion is to give the offender the opportunity to correct his behavior without gaining a criminal record. It is also less costly to the courts, as rehabilitation is less expensive than prosecuting and incarcerating the offender. Diversion programs are widely used within the juvenile justice system. Youth.gov reports that: “While it is recognized that some youth commit serious offenses and may need to be confined to a secure setting, research has shown that many youths in the juvenile justice system are there for relatively minor offenses, have significant mental health issues, and end up in out-of-home placement or on probation by default. Diversion programs are alternatives to initial or continued formal processing of youth in the juvenile delinquency system.” Their article goes on to say that they believe diversion programs are a more productive way to prevent future crimes than putting juveniles through the court system. They feel formal processing puts a delinquent label on the child and that exposing them to adult correctional facilities harms more than it helps. Different entities offer these programs, such as: Police Departments The Courts The District Attorney’s Office Outside Service Agencies In example, Ramsey County Diversion Programs are available to adults and juveniles.  According to the County Attorney’s office, juveniles who have little or no… Read more {+}

From the United Airlines Passenger to Woodland Hills Brutality, People are Missing the Point

Well, spring is upon us, and that means increased travel, increased outdoors activities, and recovery from cabin fever.  People get outside, drive more, there are more birthdays in spring and school is winding down.  And it’s no coincidence that, at this time of year, police activity increases, and the phones begin to ring more here at the Law Office of Alex DeMarco. Dominating the headlines some weeks ago was the story of a United Airlines Passenger who was injured in the process of being forcibly removed from a flight.   In the fallout from the whole affair, the overwhelming consensus was that this brutality was unjustified and unnecessary.  Yet a small select handful of individuals continued to defend the airline and the officers involved, repeating the familiar ring, “if he’d only complied, this would not be a problem.”   This represents a profound divide in our society, a new partisanship, if you will.  A divide between those who can handle some minor disorder while maintaining freedom, and those who need absolute predictability, even if that means disproportionate violence on every single individual who does not do as they are told. Police Violence, Not Just for Crimes Anymore Dr. David Dao had committed no crime.   By all accounts, he had lawfully purchased a flight like any other traveler.   Announcements were made offering for passengers to “voluntarily” give up their seats for an incentive.  He refused.   He paid for that seat.   He had a right to be there.   Because of United Airlines’ inability to do math and their incentive to simply grab more money, he was ordered to leave.  He refused.  But it was not United Airlines who ultimately forced him to leave.   For any civilian to physically grab, beat,  and eject someone would be a crime.  It would be assault. Enter the immunity of the badge.   He was ultimately removed by members of the “Chicago Department of Aviation”, a division of the Chicago Police Department.   Dr. Dao suffered a bloody head injury, concussion, and missing teeth.  The chaos and disorder of that moment for all on the flight is palpable.  And yet, it was in the name of “order”, a failure to “comply” with commercial demands, that he was ultimately brutalized.  This very high-profile story is but a symptom of a much much larger problem, and that is, we rely on police officers to solve the majority of problems that we used to solve ourselves.  Armed Officers Are in Nearly Every Public School In America An example is school discipline.  For nearly all of our nation’s existence right up through the 1990’s, police officers on duty at school were unheard of.  To this day, there are no police officers in private schools, and yet there doesn’t seem to be more violence, drugs, or criminal issues in those schools where officers never set foot until they are called.  What DOES seem to occur more in public schools with officers present?  Escalation and violence.   Recently, we… Read more {+}

Minnesota Supreme Court: BB gun doesn’t fit definition of gun

The Minnesota Supreme Court finally wakes up and follows the Federal Government and the rest of the nation in ruling that BB guns are NOT FIREARMS!   This has long been a disparity in the law.  Felons have been sent to prison for YEARS for possession of BB guns, little more than toys or tools that require NO BACKGROUND CHECK, no limitation at the point of sale.  If you or someone you know has been convicted of any firearm felony involving a BB Gun, call now because I’ve written this brief 5 times.    The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a BB gun is not considered a firearm under Minnesota law. Source: Minnesota Supreme Court: BB gun doesn’t fit definition of gun Minnesota Supreme Court: BB gun doesn’t fit definition of gun was last modified: October 19th, 2016 by Alex DeMarco

Domestic Assault Dismissed for a Veteran

Hennepin County, MN The politics of domestic assault continue to ignore the rights of the accused and minimize the need for investigation and common sense.  Flase charges are not uncommon, and the falsely accused feel helpless, having perhaps lost possession of their home, temporary custody of their kids, and had their movements and contact restricted.  It often politically incorrect to doubt the words of an accuser, particulary a woman.  Sadly, however, we have created a system that does provide incentive to manufacture domestic assault allegations.  Most of this surrounds the speed with which various mechanisms move when a domestic assault charge is made. However, with hard work and pressure, Alex De Marco secured a great result for a veteran.  He was accused of domestic assault, and his ex-girlfriend attempted to paint his client as some sort of dangerous person due to his diagnosis of post traumatic stress.  Alex detests the stereotyping of veterans as dangerous, knowing that many manage PTSD with no psychotic or violent symptoms whatsoever.  Alex was able to dig deep into the history of the alleged victim, and discovered she had made false accusations of domestic assault in the past, and not just against his client.  Alex subpoenaed officers involved in these cases who had noted the inconsistencies of prior stories.  Despite some concerning though inconsistent physical evidence in his client’s case, Alex secured an arrangement whereby his client would complete some programming, not plead to anything, and ultimately have his case dismissed in a year.  The client was able to keep his honorable discharge and is now a successful small business owner. If you’ve been charged with domestic assault, you need the services of a criminal defense attorney right away.  In particular, veterans and active duty military face consequences for their discharge and their firearm rights and ability to serve.  It’s about more than beating a charge.  It’s about honoring those who have served, and taking into account their unique interests.  Contact Alex De Marco today at 651-705-8829. Domestic Assault Dismissed for a Veteran was last modified: October 13th, 2016 by Alex DeMarco