Supreme Court launches pretrial diversion pilot program

A pretrial pilot program aimed at preserving judicial resources has been launched in four Indiana counties.

The Indiana Supreme Court on Wednesday announced the creation of a pretrial diversion pilot program, which will run through June 30. Under the program, prosecutors in certain courts in Daviess, Jasper, Jefferson and Lake counties will be able to offer defendants a pretrial diversion option before their initial hearings.

Charges eligible for the pretrial diversion offer include:

  • Disorderly conduct under Indiana Code § 35-45-1-3(a)(1).
  • Driving while suspended (with a prior) under I.C. 9-24-19-2.
  • Illegal possession of an alcoholic beverage under I.C. 7.1-5-7-7(a)(1).
  • Operating a motor vehicle without ever receiving a license under I.C. 9-24-18-1.
  • Possession of a controlled substance under I.C. 35-48-4-7(a).
  • Possession of marijuana under I.C. 35-48-4-11(1).
  • Possession of paraphernalia under I.C. 35-48-4-8.3(b)(1).
  • Public intoxication under 7.1-5-1-3(a)(1).
  • Reckless driving under I.C. 9-21-8-52(a)(1).
  • Visiting a common nuisance under I.C. 35-45-1-5.

Participating courts are:

  • 14D01, Daviess Superior Court.
  • 37C01, Jasper Circuit Court.
  • 37D01, Jasper Superior Court.
  • 39D01, Jefferson Superior Court.
  • 45D07, Lake Superior Court, County Division 1.
  • 45D08, Lake Superior Court, County Division 2.
  • 45D09, Lake Superior Court, County Division 3.
  • 45D12, Lake Superior Court, County Division 4.

The pilot program is the product of the court’s Innovation Initiative Technology Working Group.

The program has three goals, according to the court’s order: defendants would not be required to attend the initial hearing if they elect to participate in the pretrial diversion program; defendants would be able to start and finish the diversion program sooner than if the diversion were offered at or after the initial hearing; and criminal justice resources would be conserved and redirected to more serious crimes.

“Notwithstanding the prohibitions against a prosecutor seeking waiver of pretrial rights from an unrepresented accused in Rule 3.8(c) of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct, the Court ORDERS that a prosecutor participating in this pilot may offer pretrial diversion to an accused person charged with the offenses listed … before an initial hearing provided the offer informs the accused (1) of the right to an initial hearing, (2) of the right to retain counsel or have one appointed, and (3) that acceptance of the offer is not, and cannot be construed as, an admission of guilt,” the order states. “A prosecutor who offers pretrial diversion to an accused before an initial hearing does not violate Rule 3.8(c) as long as the procedure for obtaining counsel is included in the offer of pretrial diversion to that individual.”

The full order is available here.

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