Diversion Programs Offered in Arizona

Community service diversion programs

If you've been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you might be wondering if you have any alternatives to traditional court proceedings available in Arizona. Diversion programs can be a viable option for certain offenses. They aim to rehabilitate the accused rather than punish them through the criminal justice system.


According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 65% of individuals who complete diversion programs successfully avoid re-arrest within three years. This highlights the effectiveness of these programs in reducing recidivism.

Making a diversion program deal

How Arizona Misdemeanor Diversion Programs Work

Arizona's misdemeanor diversion programs are an alternative to traditional court proceedings, focusing on rehabilitation rather than punishment. Participants agree to complete specified conditions, often in exchange for a dismissal of charges or a reduced sentence.


These conditions usually include educational courses, community service, and sometimes drug testing or counseling. Once all conditions are met, the prosecution may dismiss the charges, clearing your criminal record for that particular incident.


Types of Diversion Programs Available


  • Traffic Diversion Program: For those with traffic-related offenses, this program involves safe-driving classes and may result in the dismissal of the traffic ticket.
  • Substance Abuse Diversion Program: Designed for drug-related offenses, this program usually involves substance abuse counseling, treatment, and drug testing.
  • Shoplifting Diversion Program: For individuals charged with petty theft or shoplifting, the program generally involves educational courses on the consequences and impact of theft.
  • Minor in Possession (MIP) Program: Aimed at underage individuals caught with alcohol, this program often includes educational courses and community service.
  • Domestic Violence Diversion Program: For certain domestic violence cases, this program aims to educate participants on the dynamics of domestic violence and healthier relationship patterns.
  • Anger Management Diversion Program: Targeting offenses rooted in anger issues, this program includes anger management classes.
  • Trespass Diversion Program: For individuals charged with trespassing, this program educates them on property rights and boundaries.


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Who Can Participate in a Diversion Program?

Diversion programs are not available to everyone charged with a crime. These programs are designed to offer rehabilitation opportunities for certain offenses and to specific categories of offenders.


Below, we'll discuss who is generally eligible to participate in Arizona's diversion programs under Arizona Revised Statutes.


General Eligibility Criteria

  • First-Time Offenders: Many of Arizona's diversion programs are geared towards first-time offenders, aiming to correct behaviors before they become habitual.
  • Non-Violent Offenses: Diversion programs are more likely to be available for non-violent offenses, such as shoplifting or minor drug offenses.
  • Approval of the Prosecutor: In most instances, eligibility is subject to the discretion of the prosecuting attorney, who reviews the circumstances of the case and your criminal history.


Specific Requirements as Per Arizona Revised Statutes

Arizona Revised Statute § 11-361 and § 13-3422 provide guidelines for the establishment of misdemeanor and felony diversion programs, respectively. However, each county may have its own set of rules and guidelines, often expanding on the state's basic framework. According to Arizona law:


  • The accused should voluntarily agree to participate and fulfill the conditions set by the diversion program.
  • The prosecutor's office retains the discretion to determine eligibility based on the nature of the crime, the circumstances surrounding the offense, and the offender's history.
  • For drug-related offenses, the accused usually must undergo a substance abuse evaluation and adhere to recommended treatment plans.

Exclusions and Restrictions

Certain offenses typically disqualify an individual from participation. These often include:

Diversion Program Costs and Benefits

Participation in diversion programs in Arizona offers an alternative path to the traditional criminal justice system, focusing on rehabilitation over punishment.


While these programs come with a host of benefits, including potential charge dismissal and no permanent record, they also involve certain costs. Understanding the financial obligations is key to making an informed decision about participating in a diversion program.


Enrollment Fees in Arizona Diversion Programs

In Arizona, most diversion programs require participants to pay an initial enrollment fee. These fees can vary widely depending on the type of program and the jurisdiction in which it is offered. For example:


  • Drug Diversion Programs: The initial enrollment fee can range from $100 to $500, depending on the jurisdiction and complexity of the program.
  • Behavioral Therapy Programs: Fees for these programs can range between $75 and $250 for initial enrollment.
  • Financial Crime Programs: The initial fee is typically higher, sometimes up to $500, due to the specialized nature of the counseling and educational components involved.
  • Domestic Violence Excessive Response Diversion (DVER): The initial fee for this specialized program often ranges from $150 to $400, subject to the jurisdiction's specific requirements.


Additional Costs

Beyond the initial enrollment fee, participants may incur other costs, such as:


  • Class materials or textbooks
  • Drug testing fees for programs that require regular drug screening
  • Transportation to and from the program venue


Benefits Outweighing the Costs

Despite these costs, the benefits of completing the program can be invaluable. Such as:


  • Avoidance of a criminal record, which has long-term positive implications for employment and housing.
  • Personal growth and rehabilitation through structured programs focusing on education, therapy, and community service.


The Council of State Governments reports that diversion programs can save states money in the long run—up to $5,000 in avoided costs per participant. This cost-saving benefit is in addition to the human benefit of rehabilitating individuals and reducing recidivism.

Diversion programs for felony offenses

Felony Diversion Program (Formerly Drug Diversion and Felony Pretrial Intervention Program)

Felony Diversion Programs in Arizona offer individuals facing certain felony charges an alternative to traditional court proceedings.


These programs focus on rehabilitation over incarceration and are particularly beneficial for drug-related offenses. They also extend to other types of felonies, allowing participants to receive treatment and education tailored to their specific situation.


Types of Felony Diversion Programs and Eligible Crimes

Various counties in Arizona offer different kinds of Felony Diversion Programs, which may include:


  • Drug Diversion Programs: These are designed for individuals charged with drug possession or distribution offenses. Participants often undergo drug treatment, education, and regular drug testing.
  • Theft Diversion Programs: These are aimed at individuals charged with property crimes like burglary or theft. Participants typically undergo counseling and may have to make restitution to the victims.
  • White-Collar Crime Programs: Those charged with non-violent crimes such as fraud or embezzlement may be eligible. These programs often focus on financial responsibility and restitution.
  • Youthful Offender Programs: These programs are aimed at younger adults charged with felonies, offering educational courses and community service opportunities to divert them away from a life of crime.


Requirements and Expectations

While each type of program may have its own set of requirements, common conditions generally include:


  • Substance abuse evaluations and subsequent treatment if applicable
  • Attendance at educational courses
  • Community service


Duration and Commitment

Felony diversion programs can be intense and require a longer commitment than their misdemeanor counterparts, ranging from a few months to over a year. The length of the program often depends on the type of felony charge and individual case circumstances.


According to the U.S. Department of Justice, participants in felony drug courts are up to 35% less likely to be re-arrested compared to those who go through traditional court proceedings. This underlines the potential effectiveness of diversion programs in reducing recidivism among felony offenders.


Domestic Violence Excessive Response Diversion (DVER)

In Arizona, the Domestic Violence Excessive Response Diversion (DVER) is a specialized program designed to address situations where individuals may have responded excessively in a domestic violence incident but are not necessarily considered the primary aggressor.


The DVER program aims to balance accountability with education and therapy, providing participants an avenue to address their actions constructively.


What Is DVER and Who is Eligible?

DVER programs focus on teaching conflict resolution, emotional regulation, and healthy relationship dynamics. According to Arizona law, eligibility for DVER is generally limited to those who:


  • Are not considered the primary aggressor in a domestic violence situation
  • Have no prior convictions for violent offenses
  • Are not facing other unrelated criminal charges


Program Requirements

Participants in a DVER program can expect a variety of program components, such as:


  • Domestic violence education classes
  • Anger management courses
  • Individual and couples counseling, as deemed appropriate
  • Compliance with any issued protective orders or other court-imposed conditions


Advantages of DVER

Some of the key benefits of completing a DVER program include:

  • Avoidance of a criminal record related to the domestic violence charge
  • Learning constructive tools for managing conflict and emotional responses
  • Potential for case dismissal upon successful program completion


Financial and Time Commitment

DVER programs generally require a financial commitment, which could include enrollment fees and costs associated with classes or therapy sessions.


Additionally, these programs require a substantial time commitment, often lasting several months and requiring regular attendance at classes and counseling sessions.


According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, intervention programs like DVER can result in as much as a 60% reduction in repeat domestic violence offenses. 

Frequently Asked Questions on Diversion programs

Top 10 FAQs About Diversion Programs

  • Do Diversion Programs offer any kind of financial assistance or scholarships for those who can't afford the fees?

    Financial assistance is rarely offered, but some programs have sliding fee scales based on income.

  • How do Diversion Programs handle relapses for individuals in drug-related programs?

    Relapses are generally considered setbacks but don't automatically result in expulsion. They may require additional counseling or treatment.

  • Are there Diversion Programs tailored for veterans in Arizona?

    Yes, some jurisdictions in Arizona offer veteran-specific Diversion Programs that focus on the unique needs and challenges faced by veterans.

  • If I'm not a resident of Arizona but was arrested there, can I still participate in an Arizona Diversion Program?

    Out-of-state residents can often participate, but may face logistical challenges like travel. Some programs might accept online participation for certain elements.

  • What are the typical consequences for missing a Diversion Program class or appointment?

    Missing a class or appointment without prior approval can lead to penalties, such as extra classes, fines, or even expulsion from the program.

  • How confidential are Diversion Programs? Do they share my information with other government agencies?

    Diversion Programs are typically confidential, but there are exceptions, especially if you fail the program or if there is a legal obligation to report specific information.

  • Is it possible to negotiate the fees for a Diversion Program?

    Fee waivers or reductions are rarely offered but may be possible in cases of extreme financial hardship. Discuss this with your attorney and the program administrators.

  • Do Diversion Programs have a set schedule or can they be flexible to accommodate work or school?

    Most programs have a set schedule, but some may offer evening or weekend classes to accommodate participants who have work or school commitments.

  • Can I switch from one type of Diversion Program to another midway?

    Switching programs is generally not permitted unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as a significant change in your legal situation or medical condition.

  • Do Diversion Programs have any impact on child custody or visitation rights during a divorce proceeding?

    While the programs themselves might not directly impact custody, successful completion could favorably influence a judge's perception of your character during family court proceedings.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

At Kolsrud Law Offices, we are committed to guiding you through the complexities of the Arizona criminal justice system. Whether you're dealing with a felony or misdemeanor charge, or are interested in specialized programs like the Domestic Violence Excessive Response Diversion (DVER), our expert team is here to provide you with personalized, informed legal advice.


Give us a call today so we can discuss your options - (480) 999-9444. We believe in exploring all avenues for a positive outcome, including Diversion Programs that focus on rehabilitation and long-term success over punitive measures. 

An award-winning criminal defense attorney Since 2006

Why Choose Josh Kolsrud

With over 100 trials to his name, and years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor, Josh understands the law, the legal process, and your rights. Josh is also committed to representing every client with utmost integrity and dedication



Josh has prosecuted major crimes on the state and federal level, led a successful anti-human sex trafficking operation that saved lives, and argued before countless juries and justices for his clients



Josh is an expert in both Arizona and federal criminal law, and is ready to put that expertise to work for you.



As a prosecutor, Josh saw far too many defendants lose their livelihood due to poor representation. Josh will always give every client his complete attention and effort

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