Diversion and SIS Explained

Diversion or suspended imposition of sentence (SIS) are alternatives to traditional prosecution that allow for the dismissal of criminal charges following successful completion of a probationary period. Although this sounds like a win win, it is important to understand that diversion and SIS are privileges, not rights, and that there are certain rights that must be given up in an exchange for the benefits. For a free consultation with a Missouri criminal defense attorney, call The Law Offices of Benjamin Arnold at (913) 777-HELP, or visit us on the web at kcdui.com.

Understanding the Difference Between Diversion, SIS, and Probation

Diversion, or a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS) is an alternative to traditional prosecution, which carries several benefits. Diversion and SIS are essentially similar terms that both describe the practice of the offender entering into a contract with the prosecution which allows the charges to be dismissed. If granted, the individual charged will have the opportunity to complete a probationary period which if successful will result in the dismissal of the charges with prejudice, meaning it will not be recorded as a conviction and you cannot be tried again for the same crime. Often times, if there are other charges associated with the arrest, such as drug possession or other traffic violations, the prosecutor will be willing to include them in the diversion agreement.

Eligibility for diversion or SIS varies among jurisdictions, but is generally limited to first time offenders without aggravating circumstances such as a high BAC, property damage or bodily injury, or where a child was present. Common requirements for diversion participants include alcohol classes and treatment, attending a MADD victim impact panel, court costs, and refraining from the use of alcohol or illegal substances.

While diversion provides many benefits, it is important to note that it is not for everyone- especially the requirement to stay sober for the entire period, which is verified through urinalysis (UA) testing. To be granted diversion or SIS, the individual signs away certain rights as consideration for the benefits. The most important to be aware of are the right to a speedy trial, and the stipulation of facts contained in the arresting officer’s report. Because the prosecution is granting a continuance on the charges when diversion is granted, you must give up the right to be tried within a reasonable time. This is because if you fail to meet the terms required, the prosecutor may file a motion to revoke diversion, which if granted will subject you to prosecution on the original charges, which is not a violation of double jeopardy.

Furthermore, it is almost guaranteed the prosecution will be able to achieve a conviction on the stipulated facts, because by signing the agreement you are essentially admitting everything in the report is true, which will inevitably be used against you at trial. Prior diversion agreements may be used as evidence of awareness of the risks of drunk driving in a subsequent trial for DUI or DWI, particularly to prove a required element such as recklessness for a more serious charge where death or bodily injury is involved. Furthermore, even if the charges are dismissed through diversion, certain entities such as the government will be able to see the charges and use them for enhancing purposes for later offenses.

If you are ineligible for diversion, you may be able to seek a plea deal, which will result in a conviction on your record, but with less consequences and cost than taking the matter to trial. Very few misdemeanor DUI prosecutions make it all the way to trial, as most are resolved prior to trial in the interests of reducing costs and court time for a resolution. A guilty verdict in trial will often result in more serious punishment, known as the “jury tax” among those familiar.

The Takeaway

Despite a grim outlook, it is not impossible to beat a criminal charge. A skilled attorney may be able to find error on the part of police which may result in evidence being suppressed, or even the case being thrown out in its entirety. Even if neither of these results are possible, an a criminal defense attorney may be able to make a case for diversion or suspended imposition of sentence if the prosecution is convinced there is a risk of going to trial. A criminal charge is not the end of the world, but it can have lasting consequences and be a giant hassle if you do not address it properly and keep the court satisfied. If you have been arrested for a crime in Kansas City, it is in your best interests to act quickly and secure competent legal representation. For a free consultation from an affordable criminal defense attorney, contact The Law Offices of Benjamin Arnold by phone at (913) 777-HELP, by email at ben@kcdui.com, or by visiting kcdui.com for more information.

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