Salt Lake County Introduces Diversion Program for Low-Risk Offenders

On July 30, 2019, the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office and the Salt Lake County District Attorneys’ Office unveiled a new diversion program to help low-risk offenders avoid criminal charges and stay out of jail by providing them with rehabilitation for mental health or substance abuse. Essentially, the program is designed to prevent low-risk offenders from becoming high risk.

The new diversion model will intervene at the following four different levels of the criminal justice system, according to each offender’s risk assessment:

  • Level 1 – When a defendant is charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor or third-degree felony and receives a low-risk assessment, they are eligible for first-level intervention, which starts before a case is filed. The first level doesn’t apply to DUI, domestic violence, or sexual assault cases. Rehabilitation will last four to six months.
  • Level 2 – When a defendant is charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor or third-degree felony that involves restitution, they are eligible for second-level intervention. Once a defendant completes the six- to nine-month program, the charges will be dismissed.
  • Level 3 – When a defendant is evaluated as a low to medium risk, they will enter third-level intervention after they accept a plea in abeyance. The charges will be dismissed after completing a 12- to 36-mont program.
  • Level 4 – When a defendant with a history of drug use has been convicted of a crime that doesn’t involve physical violence using a weapon or sexual violence, they will enter fourth-level intervention—no matter what the risk level. The program entails supervised probation, counseling, rehabilitation, and drug court rather than a jail sentence. Once a defendant completes the program, the case is dismissed.

In addition, the program provides each defendant with assistance in finding employment or educational opportunities. County officials believe an estimated 750 to 1,000 incarcerated individuals are eligible for the program.

For more information about diversion in Salt Lake City, contact Lokken & Putnam, P.C. today at (801) 829-9783 and schedule a free case review.