When we speak of diversion, we're referring to the legal option in which prosecutors may hold off on prosecuting a case against a defendant until the defendant "can meet certain conditions" ("Deferred Adjudication/Pretrial Diversion"). In order to "meet certain conditions," the prosecutor will allow the defendant to enter a diversion program to help the defendant. The legal outcome is complete dismissal of the case so long as the defendant completes the program. Offenders who may qualify for diversion are first-time offenders or offenders of smaller crimes, such as drug crimes and domestic violence.
There are two different kinds of diversion programs: pretrial diversion and deferred adjudication. Pretrial diversions do not require the defendant to plead either guilty or nolo contendere, which translates to no contest. Pretrial diversion programs may include "probation, counseling and community service" ("Deferred Adjudication/Pretrial Diversion"). For deferred adjudication, the defendant must plead guilty or nolo contendere; this can also be called a stay of adjudication. Entering a deferred adjudication is similar to probation; however, "the court will not enter a judgement of guilt" ("Deferred Adjudication/Pretrial Diversion"). Instead, similarly to a pretrial diversion, the court will state conditions the defendant must meet in order for the case to be dismissed, leaving the defendant with a clean record. And again, conditions will be met through some sort of deferred adjudication program.
There are also four different forms of pretrial diversion: deferred prosecution, pretrial intervention, accelerated pretrial rehabilitation, and accelerated rehabilitative disposition.
In deferred prosecution, though the defendant does not need to plead guilty before a judge, the defendant does need to confess to guilt before the prosecutor and "wave the same constitutional rights as s/he would if s/he were pleading guilty before a judge," plus "promise not to break any law more serious than a speeding ticket" ("Deferred Prosecution Law & Legal Definition"). If the prosecutor enters into a deferred prosecution agreement, the defendant will have to complete a program, such as "Milepost, Anger Management, Substance Abuse Evaluation and Treatment, or Mental Health Evaluation or Treatment" ("Deferred Prosecution").
Pretrial intervention is regulated by state laws, and its objective is to provide "rehabilitation services that focus on the connection between the social, cultural, and economic conditions that often result in a defendant's decision to commit crime" ("Pretrial Intervention Law & Legal Definition").
Accelerated Rehabilitation is another diversionary program but specifically one in which the defendant must undergo probation. While undergoing probation, defendants can be put in such programs as "mandatory substance abuse education and monitoring," "mandatory traffic courses and random blood alcohol testing," "community service and/or letters of apology" ("Accelerated Rehabilitation").
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition is principally saved for first-time offenders, with some exceptions. Those who are exempt from the program can include drivers under the influence who have injured a victim, thieves who have stolen something worth more than $10,000, and assault offenders whose victims do not want offenders in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)").