Diversion Program Intake Interviews in Rhode Island
The Rhode Island Superior Court Diversion Program was developed to provide first-time felony offenders, who are charged with a qualifying felony, to avoid standard criminal prosecution. This popular second chance program is successfully completed by defendants, will result in criminal charges being both dismissed and sealed from public record.
While there is more information about the Diversion Program available at www.calcagnilaw.com, this article is designed to discuss diversion intake interviews in Rhode Island.
Submitting a referral form
Those who wish to be considered for participation in the Diversion Program must submit a referral form or application.
The step before appearing before the court
If the defendant is charged with a qualifying offense, the next step before appearing before the court for an eligibility hearing is to undergo an intake interview.
Diversion intake interviews
Diversion intake interviews are conducted either in person or by phone, of the defendant, by a non-lawyer, or representative of the Diversion Program.
The representative will belong to the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office Diversion Unit, which means this person is employed by the same office that employs Rhode Island’s state criminal prosecutors.
Interviewees or defendants may participate in the interview alone or with counsel. It is strongly encouraged that you have legal counsel present, either physically or by phone, during the interview.
On average, Diversion Program interviews take approximately 30 minutes. The interviewer from the Attorney General’s Office Diversion Unit will follow a script that includes asking questions on various topics.
These topics include, but are not limited to:
- marital status
- residential address
- criminal history
- substance use and abuse history
- physical health and disabilities
- mental health and disabilities
- immigration status
- military service
- and more
The interviewer will also explain possible tailored requirement for diversion program completion such as attending counseling, performing community service, undergoing drug screening, paying restitution, and more.
Most importantly, Attorney General’s Office Diversion Unit Interviewer will ask the interviewee or defendant about the underlying offense(s) to ensure that he or she accepts responsibility for their actions.
This is required to pass the interview and receive a recommendation for acceptance to the Diversion Program.
Acceptance in this limited manner is not considered a guilty plea and should not constitute admissible evidence of a crime if the defendant is rejected from Diversion or removed from the program for any reason after initial acceptance.
Some diversion interviewers ask broadly if the defendant or interviewee accepts responsibility, whereas others ask more detailed and targeted questions, which may confuse defendants, cause defendants to minimize their role in the charged offense(s), foreclose the applicability of potential defenses, or induce defendants to admit to aggravating facts and circumstances that may result in rejection from the program.
Therefore, it is strongly encouraged that no defendant participates in the intake interview without counsel present.
After the Diversion Program Intake
After the Diversion Program intake interview is complete, the interviewer will prepare a report for the Court containing the substance of the information asked and answers provided. The Attorney General’s Office will then formulate its position with respect to the defendant’s application to participate in Diversion by recommending either acceptance or rejection.
The recommendation will be noted in the report before the document is forwarded to the court for a judge’s review and consideration. The case will then be scheduled for a Diversion Program Eligibility Hearing where counsel for the State and the Defense will meet with a judge, and review the report, and both parties will be afforded a chance to advocate for or against a defendant’s acceptance into the program. The sitting judge will then make a final decision.
If you have questions or concerns about the Rhode Island Superior Court Diversion Program and/or preparing for a Diversion Program intake interview, contact the RI Defense Law Firm of John L. Calcagni III, Inc. for a free consultation at (401) 351-5100.