As a former Commonwealth’s Attorney, a defense attorney and County Attorney, Larry has always believed in Diversion and has established an extensive program since he was elected in 2006.
But, what is Criminal Diversion? Why is it important and who is eligible?
Criminal Diversion ultimately means the arrest record is dismissed and expunged. An adult who has committed a criminal offense for the first time may be the beneficiary of this program.
Criminal diversion is totally discretionary and is eligible for misdemeanors and felonies.
The guidelines for Criminal Diversion are formed by the Kentucky Supreme Court, Local District & Circuit Courts and individual Prosecutors.
So, how does diversion work? Here is a great example.
In Larry’s office he deals with a unique population of young people who get arrested. The most common charges are misdemeanor shoplifting and alcohol abuse. We are a college community with students who drink alcohol with the sole purpose to get intoxicated. Some universities throughout the country permit drinking on campus. Those institutions allow fraternities to drink usually have safeguards in place to hopefully ensure safety and enforce rules. However, some universities, like UK, do not allow this.
In Lexington, we have a different standard. Basically, there is a no drinking policy on campus. Fraternities and many students have off campus apartments which are solely designated “party houses.” So, there are many students who drink off campus and consequently, are drunk when they return to campus to either the dorms or fraternity houses. Inevitably a number of students get arrested for intoxication or possessing fake IDS. All of these students request to be admitted into the Diversion Program offered by the County Attorney’s Office.
The reason Larry offers Diversion is because a criminal conviction can be a major block for a student’s future both for post graduate advancement or in their chosen profession. Larry has a sincere desire to keep a first offense criminal charge from possibly obstructing that future.
However, Larry does not believe that Diversion should be, or perceived to be, just a slap on the wrist. It should instead be used as a learning experience for the student.
While there’s a number of requirements that a student must meet, Larry’s basic requirement for Diversion is to personally meet with the students and their parents in his office. This meeting often creates a hardship for parents because these moms and dads or grandparents often have to come from out of state or other Kentucky cities. To accommodate these families, Larry meets with them on weekends, holidays or at night after work. Larry insists with the parents that he does not want them to miss work with the same policy applying to their child regarding class or work.
Larry’s ultimate goal in these meetings is to make sure the family completely understands what expungement really means and to discuss responsible drinking and decision making with their child.