Pre-Arraignment Diversion Program
Pre-arraignment Diversion (PAD), initially proposed by former Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and launched by Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce A. Smith, is a pilot program that offers individuals who have received a desk appearance ticket to perform tasks and receive community-based treatment and supportive services instead of jail, probation, or other traditional sentences. Upon completion, the NCDA either declines to prosecute or dismisses the case; fingerprints and arrest photographs are destroyed; and the criminal record for the desk appearance ticket is sealed.
The goal of the program is to offer participants an alternative to the criminal justice system through a restorative justice approach that seeks to rehabilitate and educate them, and avoid recidivism. Pre-arraignment diversion spares participants the trauma and expense of navigating the court system; the cost and burden of missing work or school; avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction; and matches those suffering from addiction with lifesaving substance abuse treatment.
A study of the pre-arraignment diversion program in New York City (Project Reset) showed that 95% of those who participated avoided appearing in court. Also, participants in the program had lower rates of recidivism than those who did not.
Those charged with an eligible offense are notified by the Community Partnership Program of the opportunity to participate in PAD and given a number to call. A team of graduate social work interns serve as intake specialists and walk the participant through the next steps of the program. Nothing the individual says to the intake specialists can be used against them if the case ultimately goes to court, and program participation has no impact on an individual’s immigration status. If an eligible individual declines to participate in PAD, there is no adverse impact, and their case will be arraigned in court on the scheduled date.
Anyone charged with an eligible offense is encouraged to speak to an attorney before participating in pre-arraignment diversion. The Legal Aid Society of Nassau County will have attorneys available for consultations from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on business days at (516) 560-6048.
Charges eligible for pre-arraignment diversion include:
- Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree (an A misdemeanor)
- Petit Larceny (an A misdemeanor)
- Disorderly Conduct (a violation)
- Driving with Suspended or Revoked License – an unclassified misdemeanor
- Driving with Suspended or Revoked Registration – an unclassified misdemeanor
- Trespass (a violation)
- Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree (a B misdemeanor)
- Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree (an A misdemeanor)
- Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Third Degree (an A misdemeanor)
Eligible participants have between 60 and 90 days, depending on the charge, to complete a program. Upon successful completion of the program, the charge are dismissed, and the person is never arraigned. If the individual is unsuccessful, they are required to appear in court on the scheduled desk appearance court date and the case will proceed without penalty.
Some of the community-based resources and services include substance abuse treatment, peer meetings at the Community Partnership Program, community service, Stoplift (a shoplifting prevention program), on-line programs, gang intervention, and social service referrals, including housing, food, education and job training.
Any re-arrest for any offense disqualifies the person from participating in pre-arraignment diversion.
Factors that may impact eligibility include an arrest involving offenses against individual victims; arrests for any driving while intoxicated offenses; open pending criminal cases; voluminous misdemeanor or violation convictions; prior felony convictions; whether the person is on probation or parole; or the existence of outstanding warrants.