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Diversion Programs, Pleas, And Admissions of Guilt

Most criminal cases will result in pleas. In fact, I think for state court it's over 90%. That makes sense considering that when you are charged with a crime, especially serious crimes, the risks of going to trial are often greater than the inconvenience of the resolution.

For instance, if you are charged with aggravated battery, facing a maximum of 15 years with a minimum guideline range of 21 months in state prison and the state offers Pretrial Intervention (PTI), you would probably accept it.

But aside from the traditional aspects of accepting a diversionary plea or any other resolution, many people do not want to have to admit guilt. Especially if they are maintaining their innocence.

Admissions of guilt are tough to swallow. However, they are not always necessary. In Miami-Dade County, Pretrial Diversion (PTD), which is diversion for misdemeanor offenses, and Pretrial Intervention (PTI), which is diversion for felony offenses, do not require admissions of guilt. You can accept the conditions of the program while maintaining a plea of not guilty. The requirements, however, are that you complete the program's requirements and in exchange, the state will dismiss your case upon completion.

For Back On Track, Miami-Dade's DUI diversion program, you must admit guilt. Entry into the program requires that the accused fill out a written statement of responsibility, in which the accused admits to driving under the influence. If the accused does not complete the program and his or her case proceeds to trial, the statement can be used against the accused should he or she testify.

For Broward County diversion programs, a statement of responsibility is required. The same logic applies - if you fail the program and you take your case to trial, the state will use the statement against you.

For non-diversionary resolutions, such as probation, an admission of guilt may not be necessary. A plea of "no contest" tells the court that you are accepting the plea because it is in your best interest but you are not admitting guilt.

A guilty plea is an admission of guilt. In fact during the plea colloquy, the Judge may ask you, "Are you pleading guilty because you are guilty?"

I know that people don't want to admit guilt if they believe that they are not guilty, but you must weigh your options. Pride can be a dangerous obstacle to a good resolution of a serious case.