Pre-Trial Diversion, also referred to as Pre-Trial Intervention (“PTI”), programs allow people charged with a crime such as DWI to avoid having a conviction on their record by their participation in the program. The person must qualify for the PTI program, enroll in the program, and fulfill all of the requirements of the program in order to avoid prosecution for the crime. Many District Attorneys and prosecutors across the State of Louisiana now conduct some type of Pre-Trial Diversion program (PTI) and include DWI in these programs. These programs are at the discretion of the local prosecutor and, therefore, differ greatly in their requirements and characteristics from one jurisdiction, city or parish, to another. The only way to determine if a PTI program is available is to ask the District Attorney or prosecutor.
PTI programs are usually only available to people who have little or no prior criminal history. In the case of DWI, they are almost always only available for first time offenders who have no other criminal convictions and have never been previously charged with DWI. The idea behind the programs is that not every charge should result in criminal prosecution, and that first time offenders can be screened through these programs and kept from returning to the judicial system in the future. PTI programs have been praised for their success in dealing with first time offenders in Louisiana and for their help in reducing the costs and resources incurred in the prosecution of minor crimes. The PTI program concept is simple. First, a person is arrested and charged with DWI. Next, the person is offered or asks to participate in the program. The DWI charge remains pending until the person completes the requirements of the PTI program.
If the person satisfies all the requirements of the program and finishes the probation period without committing any other crimes, the charges will be dismissed and the conviction will not appear on that person’s record. If, however, the person commits another offense during the probation period or fails to meet the requirements of the program, the prosecutor can and often will revoke the participation in the program and require that person to face those charges in court. For this reason, it is important that anyone who enrolls in a PTI program take the requirements very seriously and do everything required.
As stated above, successful completion of the program will result in dismissal of the charges and no conviction will appear on the person’s record. The arrest for the charges will still appear on the person’s criminal record, but this can be easily removed by having an attorney file a motion for expungement of the arrest record with the court. A person who completes at PTI program will automatically have the right to expunge the arrest of the charge.
PTI programs can be highly beneficial for first time offenders and are a useful tool when deciding how to proceed in certain cases. Although they have strict requirements, the benefits far outweigh the costs in many cases. It is important to know all the rights involved before making any important decisions. A good Louisiana DWI attorney can guide a defendant through the process and explain the pros and cons of PTI programs as compared to other options such as taking a plea or fighting the charges in court. Whether participation in a PTI program is beneficial will depend heavily on the facts of each particular case and can also have an impact on the status of a driver’s license. It is always advisable to discuss each case with a Louisiana DWI attorney before making a decision regarding PTI.
Robert J. Landry is located in Houma, Louisiana and performs work in Terrebonne, Lafourche, Tangipahoa, St. Tammany and East Baton Rouge Parishes.