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Federal Pretrial Diversion — Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyers

Pretrial diversion (PTD) is an alternative to prosecution that seeks to divert certain offenders from traditional criminal justice processing into a program of supervision and services administered by the U.S. Probation Service. In the majority of cases, offenders are diverted at the precharge stage. Participants who successfully complete the program will not be charged or, if charged, will have the charges against them dismissed. Those unsuccessful participants are returned for prosecution in federal court.

The major objectives of pretrial diversion are:

  • To prevent future criminal activity among certain offenders by diverting them from traditional processing into community supervision and services
  • To save prosecutive and judicial resources for concentration on major cases
  • To provide, where appropriate, a vehicle for restitution to communities and victims of crime

The period of supervision is not to exceed 18 months, but may be reduced depending on the circumstances of the case.

Eligibility Criteria

The United States Attorney may use his or her discretion and divert any individual against whom a prosecutable case exists to pretrial diversion so long as the person is not accused of an offense that, under existing Department of Justice guidelines, should be diverted to the state for prosecution; or

A person with two or more prior felony convictions; or

A public official or former public official accused of an offense arising out of an alleged violation of a public trust; or

Accused of an offense related to national security or foreign affairs.


In the past, those defendants who were addicted to drugs or had two or more felony convictions were not candidates for federal pretrial diversion. This changed recently with respect to those defendants addicted to drugs but not as to those defendants with two or more felony convictions. In the spring of 2011, the Department of Justice amended the United States Attorneys’ Manual so that pretrial diversion programs are available to drug addicted persons but unfortunately retained the restriction for two or more prior felony convictions. Of course, an individual defendant can receive pretrial diversion without a formal program.