You are on page 1of 8

The Office of Patricia R.

Lykos Harris County District Attorney

Overview of HCDA D.I.V.E.R.T. Intervention

Presented by: Roger Bridgwater, Bureau Chief Professional Development, Community Protection and Ethics Bureau Harris County District Attorneys Office th 1201 Franklin, 6 floor Houston, Tx, 77002 Wk: 713-755-3796 Fax: 713-755-6865

The Problem:
Harris County ranks #1 in DWI Fatalities Among the Large Counties in the USA
Experts agree that limited public transportation and urban sprawl that would lead their 3.9 million residents to drive many miles are partly to blame for their high DWI fatality. Meanwhile, the county jail is constantly filled with DWI suspects due to more officers and stepped-up reinforcement patrolling roadways at peak times. Added to this mix is the publics stubborn reluctance to get cabs or rely on designated drivers when they get drunk. From 2000 to 2008 those opting for jail time to avoid treatment as the method of disposing of their criminal charge has dropped by 26%
Start of Divert Program August, 2009




0 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Probations 2006 2007 Acquittals 2008 2009 Dismissals 2010 2011* Straight Convictions

Straight Convictions Probations Acquittals Dismissals 5,069 4,719 15 812

4,812 4,384 11 718

5,354 4,021 8 713

5,658 3,617 29 791

6,740 3,333 80 858

6,720 3,039 128 1,104

6,294 2,266 120 1,358

6,421 2,152 112 1,261

6,394 2,214 109 1,100

6,232 2,331 61 1,811

5,069 3,498 75 2,630

4,402 3,458 52 2,805

*2011 data YTD - November 17, 2011 2|P a g e updated 12-22-11

The Solution: D.I.V.E.R.T. Intervention

A. What is DIVERT Intervention? The HCDAs DIVERT Intervention program began August 1st 2009. DIVERT is an addition to the exceptional efforts already underway in our community to reduce the incidents of Driving While Intoxicated and the devastating loss of lives of innocent members of our community as a result of the automobile crashes that are occurring at an alarming rate. DIVERT is an acronym for Direct Intervention using Voluntary Education Restitution and Treatment. HCDAs DIVERT Intervention is the postponement of prosecution in first offender Class B Misdemeanor DWI cases. Any person qualified as being eligible for the program is subject to the respective conditions imposed based upon the evaluation of the Defendant. The intervention time period of supervision shall not exceed two years. The keystones of this program are Education, Restitution, and Treatment. Treatment is determined after a thorough battery of tests to determine pertinent matters including: alcohol/drug dependency, motivation, needs assessment, and supervisory requirements. DIVERT Intervention is reserved for cases in the best interest of the community. B. DIVERT is designed to: 1. Reduce the instances of repeat arrests for driving while intoxicated through mandatory Evidence-based treatment and supervision; 2. Raise community awareness of consequences of Driving While Intoxicated; 3. Minimize court appearances during the disposition period; 4. Impose Evidence-based conditions following evaluation of each offender; 5. Objectively assure entry, supervision, and treatment criteria uniformly applied to all. C. DIVERT Intervention joins the outstanding programs (Traditional Traffic Patrol; No Refusal Weekends; Vigorous Prosecution; DWI Task Force; Mandatory Blood Draws; Citizen Education) currently being implemented by local law curb the plague of drunk driving and alcohol related traffic deaths on our streets and freeways throughout Harris County.

3|P a g e

updated 12-22-11

The Result:
It is Working!
The Goal to Increase Participation in Supervision/Treatment is Being Reached
Straight Conviction 311 302 401 354 307 419 351 312 311 312 330 280 Straight Conviction 324 288 364 304 339 368 321 377 278 291 151

Month January '10 February March April May June July August September October November December

Supervision 420 477 544 481 409 438 360 368 346 357 285 300

Probation 239 284 327 296 254 253 217 220 216 230 195 191

Divert 181 193 217 185 155 185 143 148 130 127 90 109

Month January '11 February March April May June July August September October November December

Supervision 376 376 401 345 371 363 300 394 381 404 264

Probation 264 269 289 238 270 271 222 250 271 263 175

Divert 112 107 112 107 101 92 78 144 110 141 89

Since the inception of the DIVERT program through 2010, the average number of 1st Offense DWI Defendants accepting supervision has increase by 38%

Start of DIVERT program

500 400 300 200 100 0


Straight Conviction

4|P a g e

updated 12-22-11

DIVERT Statistics as of 12-21-11:

4022 enrolled to date 1412 active participants 76.97% (2009) Defendants successfully completed 23.03% (601) Defendants terminated for violation 00.82% (33) Recidivism Rate

5|P a g e

updated 12-22-11

APPENDIX I. Advisory Materials: National Prosecution Standards, 3rd Edition

1. 4-3.1 Prosecutorial Responsibility-The decision to divert cases from the criminal justice system should be the responsibility of the prosecutor. The prosecutor should, within the exercise of his or her discretion, determine whether diversion of an offender to a treatment alternative best serves the interests of justice. 2. 4-3.2 Diversion Alternatives-A prosecutor should be aware and informed of the scope and availability of all alternative diversion programs. The prosecutors office should take steps to help ensure that all diversion programs are credible and effective. 3. 4-3.3 Need for Programs-In jurisdictions where diversion programs are deemed insufficient by the chief prosecutor, the prosecutors office should urge the establishment, maintenance, and enhancement of such programs as may be necessary. 4. 4-3.4 Information Gathering-The prosecutor should have all relevant investigative information, personal data, case records, and criminal history information necessary to render sound and reasonable decisions on diversion of individuals from the criminal justice system. The chief prosecutor should take steps to ensure the enactment of appropriate legislation and court rules to enable the prosecutor to obtain such information from appropriate agencies. 5. 4-3.5 Factors to Consider-The prosecutor may divert individuals from the criminal justice system when he or she considers it to be in the interest of justice and beneficial both to the community and to the individual. Factors which may be considered in this decision include: a. The nature, severity, or class of the offense; b. Any special characteristics or difficulties of the offender; c. Whether the defendant is a first-time offender; d. The likelihood that the defendant will cooperate with and benefit from the diversion program; e. Whether an available program is appropriate to the needs of the offender; f. The impact of diversion and the crime on the community; g. Recommendations of the relevant law enforcement agency; h. The likelihood that the defendant will recidivate; i. The extent to which diversion will enable the defendant to maintain employment or remain in school; j. The opinion of the victim; k. Provisions for restitution; l. The impact of the crime on the victim; and m. Diversion decisions with respect to similarly situated defendants. 6. 4-3.6 Diversion Procedures-The process of diverting a defendant should include the following procedures: a. A signed agreement or court record specifying all requirements for the accused; b. A signed waiver of speedy trial requirements, where applicable; c. The right of the prosecutor, for a designated time period, to proceed with the criminal case when, in the prosecutors judgment, such action would be in the interest of justice; d. Appropriate mechanisms to safeguard the prosecution of the case, such as admissions of guilt, stipulations of facts, and depositions of witnesses. 7. 4-3.7 Record of Diversion-A record of the defendants participation in a diversion program, including the reasons for the diversion, should be created for each case and maintained by the prosecutors office for subsequent use by law enforcement, unless prohibited by law. 8. 4-3.8 Explanation of Diversion Decision-Upon request, the prosecutor should provide adequate explanations of diversion decisions to victims, witnesses, law enforcement officials, the court and statewide diversionary program(s) and when deemed appropriate, to other interested parties.

II. What is the difference between Deferred Adjudication and DIVERT Intervention? 1.Deferred Adjudication is a form of Community Supervision and is authorized in Article 42.12 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Section 1 of that Article states , in part: it is the purpose of this article to place wholly within the state courts the responsibility for determining when the imposition of sentence in certain cases shall be

6|P a g e

updated 12-22-11

suspended, the conditions of community supervision, and the supervision of defendants placed on community supervision 2.Texas Government Code Section 76.011, Pretrial Services. (a) The department may operate programs for the supervision and rehabilitation of persons in pretrial intervention programs. Programs may include testing for controlled substances. A person in a pretrial intervention program may be supervised for a period not to exceed two years. 3.Moreover, Article 102.012 of the Code of Criminal Procedure authorizes a department to assess a fee equal to its actual costs for supervision or providing programs to a defendant. Actual costs include the departments administrative costs. Tex. Govt Code Ann. 75.015(c) (Vernon 1998). 4.Expunction is available for successful completion of DIVERT because: a. Expunction is governed by Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and prohibits expunction for any person who received a final conviction or court ordered community supervision under Article 42.12 for any offense other than a Class C misdemeanor; b. Pre-trial Intervention is authorized by Texas Government Code and is not prohibited from Expunction. III. This program is the postponement of prosecution in 1st offender Class B Misdemeanor DWI cases. In order to be eligible to be considered for the program a defendant must meet the following pre-requisites: 1. Be a US citizen or legal resident alien. 2. Be a Texas resident, and willing to comply with all conditions in Harris County, Texas. 3. TDL valid at the time of the DWI. If relying on International or Interstate reciprocity, please contact DWI DIVERT first at 4. Never before been arrested/charged/convicted of any criminal offense, including juvenile offenses, or cases that were originally filed as Class A or B Misdemeanors, and reduced to a Class C. (An exception may be made for dismissed cases). For DIVERT Appeals, e-mail 5. No open felony cases. 6. Defendants with a CDL that are interested in DIVERT must surrender the endorsement. If they subsequently qualify for DIVERT following a DIVERT interview and assessment testing, they must provide an affidavit indicating they will not reapply for a CDL until 2 years after completion of their DIVERT term. 7. Defendants with high travel demands need to be pre-approved. E-mail for pre-approval. 8. Must remain alcohol and drug free while out on bond. 9. Submit to a DIVERT interview and testing conducted by the Harris County Community Supervisions and Corrections Department to evaluate alcohol/drug dependency as well as other pertinent matters that may affect eligibility. IV. DIVERT EXCLUSIONS: 1. Judicial Veto. 2. Defendant suffers from co-occurring disorder recognized as a significant factor in reducing the success of a person on supervision. 3. Restitution issues. 4. Case has been set for trial. 5. Case involves passengers under the age of 17. 6. Circumstances where the supervision/treatment needs exceed those available through DIVERT resources. 7. Circumstances where the DWI offense includes a victim who suffers serious bodily injury or death as a result of facts surrounding the arrest for DWI, regardless of culpability on the part of the defendant. Contrary to the best interest of the community and intent of HCDAs DIVERT. 8. Pending information, complaint, or indictment in Harris or in any other County or state or federal jurisdiction. However, this exclusion may not apply, in certain circumstances, where the Defendant is charged with one of the misdemeanor offenses (Misd POM; Misd PCS) arising out of the same transaction. In some circumstances, if allowed to proceed when charged by misdemeanor information for an offense arising out of the same transaction, a nolle prosequi with a waiver of SOL may be permitted in Misd POM and Misd PCS matters where DIVERT is permitted. In these cases, the period of any DIVERT that is permitted may be no less than 18 months and the incentives regarding Interlock removal
7|P a g e updated 12-22-11

or mail in reporting will not apply. Pre-approval must be obtained by the Misdemeanor Division Chief, Deputy Chief, or Bureau Chief. 9. Companion FSGI, Resisting Arrest, Reckless Driving, Racing, UCW, UCW by CHL holder, Fleeing, Fict. or altered DL or ID are excluded from DIVERT.

V. AFTER a DIVERT interview has occurred, if it is determined that a defendant is both eligible and an appropriate candidate for the program, an agreement will be tailored for the defendant with customized conditions of the program. Defendants that are alcohol dependent are not eligible for DIVERT. An offer will be e-mailed to you before your next Court date. If you have not received your offer via e-mail at least 24 hours before your next Court date, please call 713755-5474 or e-mail Please print out this packet, and take it with you to Court. Any modifications must be pre-approved. If the defendant accepts the terms of the agreement, the defendant will be required to enter a plea of guilty to the offense of Driving While Intoxicated and agree to the punishment to be received in the event of violation of the conditions of the program. As part of the agreement the Defendant will waive the right to a jury trial, right to appeal from a finding of guilt, and right to appeal from assessment of sentence. The case will then be reset for a period of 12-24 months. If the defendant successfully completes all of the conditions of the agreement and treatment plan the case will be dismissed. After a period of 2 years from the date of the dismissal, the defendant may follow the statutory procedure and request expunction of the record. VI. If considering the DIVERT program for a defendant, please do the following: 1. Meet with your client and determine citizenship status. 2. Discuss your clients travel needs. Defendants that live out of state or that travel frequently may not be appropriate for DIVERT. 3. Counsel with your client regarding the use of alcohol/drugs while on bond. 4. Notify the court prosecutors of your clients interest in being considered for the program. Advise Prosecutor if your client DOES NOT speak English. 5. Approach Prosecutor to have appointment set and provide Prosecutor with your clients next reset date, the clients availability, your name, and email address/fax number where the assessment report and DIVERT agreement may be sent. 6. Advise your client of $202.00 assessment fee that MUST be paid on the 6th floor of 49 San Jacinto St. Should they miss their appointment, arrive late, or show up without the required fee, they will not be eligible for the program. 7. Accepted methods of payment include cash, money order, or a cashiers check made out to HCCSCD. Personal checks and credit cards are not accepted. 8. Inform your client that they must first report to Rm. 451 on the 4th Floor at 49 San Jacinto St. to report for the assessment. They will then be directed to pay for the assessment. PLEASE NOTE: A. Before a defendant charged with DWI may enter the Harris County District Attorneys DIVERT program, the defendant must be evaluated to determine the appropriate terms and conditions of the supervision program based on the individual needs and history of the defendant. This evaluation may include any interviews or testing of the defendant deemed necessary by the District Attorney to facilitate the evaluation process. B. If the defendant, after evaluation, chooses not to enter into the DIVERT program, the District Attorney agrees that any information directly or indirectly derived from any interviews or testing of the defendant during the DIVERT evaluation will NOT be used as evidence against the defendant in any criminal proceedings except for the purposes of impeachment, rebuttal, or cross-examination should the defendant testify or provide the court with information contrary to that provided in the evaluation process; or information learned from a source independent of the evaluation. C. The defendant further acknowledges and agrees that in the event that he does obtain an expunction order related to this case, the District Attorney is authorized pursuant to this agreement to retain the defendants name, date-of-birth, Harris County SPN, date of offense, name of offense and the date of the filing of the pre-trial intervention agreement. The defendant affirmatively waives his right to seek expunction of his name, date-of-birth, Harris County SPN, date of offense, offense, and the date of the filing of the pre-trial intervention agreement. The defendant agrees that the District Attorney can retain this information pursuant to this agreement regardless of whether an expunction order expressly discusses the information. The District Attorney agrees to maintain this retained information related to defendants pretrial intervention in a confidential and secure database that is not be released to third parties
8|P a g e updated 12-22-11

You might also like