The Diversion Program is available generally (but not always) to first time offenders who are faced with a criminal charge in the Magistrates’ Court; however the individual circumstances may mean that the police and court attitude is that the offender should avoid a criminal record.
We have assisted a number of clients to successful obtain a placement on the Diversion Program, and understand that for first time offenders, appearing in the Magistrates’ Court can be an overwhelming and stressful experience.
To be eligible for the Diversion Program, the following criteria needs to be met:
- The offence is a summary offence (which means it can be heard and determined in the Magistrates’ Court);
- The Prosecution consent to Diversion; and
- The offender acknowledges responsibility for the offence.
If an offender is recommended for Diversion, they attend at the Magistrates’ Court and complete an assessment with a Diversion Co-ordinator. This will involve completing a questionnaire and attending an interview. Our lawyers regularly assist clients with this process. Upon completion of this assessment, the matter will then proceed to a Magistrate to make the final decision as to whether Diversion should be granted.
If deemed suitable, the offender will be placed on a Diversion Plan. The conditions of a Diversion Plan can vary, depending upon the particular circumstances of the case. Generally, they will involve things such as:
- That the offender write a letter of apology to the victim;
- That the offender write a letter of gratitude to the police informant;
- That the offender donate a sum of money to a particular charity; and
- That the offender be of good character for a specified time period.
Once someone is granted Diversion, the Magistrate has the power to adjourn proceedings to allow a Diversion Plan to take place. On the return date of the matter, if all conditions of the Diversion Plan have been successfully completed, the matter will essentially be ‘struck out’ and no record will be kept.
We understand that there can be serious consequences of receiving a conviction or non-conviction, as it can impact on current or future employment or travel opportunities. Therefore, at Galbally Rolfe Criminal Lawyers we are well prepared to ensure that you are afforded the best possible opportunity to be granted eligibility for Diversion.
For further information on the Diversion Plan:
- Criminal Justice Diversion Plan Brochure: https://www.magistratescourt.vic.gov.au/publication/criminal-justice-diversion-program-brochure
- Criminal Justice Diversion Plan Fact Sheet: https://www.magistratescourt.vic.gov.au/publication/criminal-justice-diversion-program-fact-sheet