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Dallas County pre-trial diversion programs help defendants

Facing a criminal charge is often challenging, especially when it is your first time. Some people don't realize that there are many programs available now that can help individuals facing criminal charges to minimize the consequences they will face. However, these programs aren't easy or fast.

Many programs require active participation in specific activities to help the person live a life without breaking the law. They are usually pre-trial diversion programs, so you have to ensure that you look into these prior to entering a plea. One program that is unique to the Dallas County area is Intercept, which was spearheaded by Judge Shequitta Kelly.

What makes Intercept unique?

When Judge Kelly began looking into her caseload for misdemeanor family violence issues, she found that 70% of the cases involved individuals who needed supportive services instead of just time in jail. Around 60% of the defendants were unemployed. She created this program to help these individuals get the support they need to learn how to overcome obstacles and rise above the societal limitations they have always known.

What are the requirements for Intercept?

To be considered for the program, individuals have to be under 25 years old and can't have any felony convictions or pending charges. They can't be on probation and must not have any prior convictions for assault or other violent crimes. The case has to be a misdemeanor assault charge that is unadjudicated. All participants must be focused on making a positive change in their lives.

What happens during the program?

Intercept lasts nine months and is divided into three phases. In the first phase, participants undergo testing and screening for mental health, drug usage and literacy. In the second phase, they receive any treatment they need for underlying conditions and will get a GED if they haven't received one or a high school diploma. In the third phase, they are paired with a mentor who will help them build skills that will facilitate a productive life and assist them with obtaining a job. Once the person completes all the requirements, they graduate the program and their charges are dismissed.

This court also has a program, Pipeline to Possibilities, that is focused on helping young people to overcome living a life of crime. Because of the many programs available in this area, anyone who has pending criminal charges should explore them as part of the initial stages of defense strategy preparation.

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