Let’s talk a little about the Whitman County Misdemeanor Pre-Charging Diversion Program. Over a year ago, we discussed a possible MIP diversion program, so let’s revisit that topic and see how that new program now works for WSU students. Here is how it compares with how things used to work:
Old Program: You are formally charged with the crime of M.I.P. You appear in court, hire a criminal defense lawyer or get an attorney appointed at public expense, and hopefully work a deal. You would try to get an agreement so the case is dismissed after a year if: 1) you keep out of trouble, 2) do some community service hours, 3) pay court costs, and 4) go to an Alcohol Drug Information School (ADIS).
New Program: You aren’t formally charged with M.I.P. but your receive a letter from the prosecutor inviting you to participate in a diversion program. You then agree to pay $350 dollars, go to an Alcohol Drug Information School (ADIS) class, do four community service hours, and stay out of trouble for a year. Minor in Possession of Alcohol, and Minor in Possession of Marijuana qualify. Charges of DUI, Fake ID, assaults, possession of ecstasy, etc do not qualify for this program.
What is the difference? Under the new program you are never charged with a crime, your name will not show up in the public court record database, and your legal fees are reduced. How do you know if you qualify? You will receive a letter that says you are eligible. Here is the letter template:
(City, State, Zip)
RE: Eligibility for Whitman County Pre-Charging Diversion Program
Police Report #
Charge: Minor in Possession / Possession of Marijuana
Dear Mr. or Ms. Defendant:
This office has received law enforcement reports concerning your commission of the crime of (Charge) (Name of arresting LE Agency) (Date of offense) Enclosed is a copy of the officer’s narrative report. Based on your lack of criminal history, we have determined that you are eligible for our Pre-Charging Diversion Program. The program is designed as an alternative to formal criminal charges and court proceedings, and gives offenders the opportunity to accept accountability for their actions by completing this program. If you successfully complete all aspects of the program, you will not be prosecuted for the crime. If you decide to participate in the Diversion Program, please complete and sign the enclosed Pre-Charging Diversion Agreement. It is a binding contract. You should consult your own attorney. Do not sign it unless you understand it and will comply with it, including all due dates. You will have to promptly pay $350, complete four hours of community service, attend an alcohol drug information school class, and stay out of trouble. If you decide to participate in this program, you must sign and return the Agreement within two weeks of the date of this letter to:
Whitman County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
Attn: Pre-Charging Diversion Program
PO Box 30
Failure to complete and return the Agreement within two weeks of the date of this letter may result in non-acceptance into the program.
If you sign, date, fill out your mailing address / phone, and return the Agreement within the two week time frame, you will be sent a letter accepting you into the program. The letter will include reminders of what you have to do, along with the deadlines for completion of all obligations.
If you would like to enter this program, but cannot afford the $350 fee, you may contact a Pre-Charging Diversion staff person at 509-397-****, to see if you qualify for a waiver of the fee. If you can prove that you have insufficient assets and are unemployable (such as by proving that you receive social security payments due to a disability), you will qualify for a waiver of the fee. However, if you are voluntarily unemployed or under-employed, you will not qualify for a waiver of the fee. For instance, if you are a college student and going to school instead of working, you will not qualify for a waiver. Similarly, if you have budgeted your money for school-related expenses and would prefer to not spend that money on the fee for this program, you will not qualify for a waiver of the fee.
Prosecutor Office Hours:
Open 9am – 12pm
Open 1pm – 4pm
If you have any questions, you may call a Diversion staff person at 509-397-****.
Who qualifies for this program? You have to have a squeaky clean record. Let’s take a look at the Whitman County policy that I obtained through a public records request.
A full copy of the policy is available here. Once it is determined that you qualify, you will be invited to sign an agreement. As I first mentioned, the agreement explains that you will not be prosecuted if you agree to do community service hours, pay an administrative fee, attend an alcohol drug information school (ADIS) in Pullman, WA, and stay out of trouble. The full form is available here. It all seems pretty easy to do. However students do manage to mess this up from time to time. Here are some tips to get through the program successfully:
- Don’t wait until the last minute to do the Alcohol Drug Information School. The classes are only offered every once in a while, and they fill up quick. You may be stuck driving halfway across the state to find a class if you wait until the last minute.
- Don’t try to do the ADIS at some online uncertified class. There are a lot of websites that claim their classes are “court approved” and sound official, but are really just an online business.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to sign up for community service hours. They need to be prearranged.
- Keep a copy of the agreement. If you lose a copy go and ask for another copy rather than try to ignore the problem.
- Don’t pay the fee late.
- Don’t re-offend. This might seem pretty obvious, but a lot of college students almost view it as their God-given right to drink alcohol. However a re-offense voids the agreement, and you can be prosecuted on both the old offense and new offense.
The benefit of successfully completing such an agreement is that you will never even be charged with MIP, and you will never need to come to court.