Council approves pretrial diversion program for municipal court 

The Hartselle City Council passed an ordinance at its meeting Tuesday establishing a pretrial diversion program for the Hartselle Municipal Court. The program will provide defendants with an alternative pathway for certain offenses. 

The program is designed for individuals facing charges in Hartselle Municipal Court that could significantly impact their future if convicted, according to municipal court clerk Sherry Reagin. 

To be eligible for the program, defendants must meet several criteria outlined by the ordinance. This includes having minimal to no criminal history, demonstrating responsiveness to rehabilitative treatment and exhibiting a low likelihood of engaging in further criminal activity. Successful completion of the program results in the dismissal of the charge. 

Participants in the program must undergo an evaluation, attend classes, receive counseling and treatment, undergo drug/alcohol testing and perform community service or a combination of these conditions related to their charge, Reagin said. One key requirement is that the defendant must enter a guilty plea to their charge. The judge accepts the plea but withholds adjudication while the defendant is actively participating in the program. If the defendant fails to complete the program, the guilty plea is then adjudicated, and the defendant will serve the sentence associated with the conviction.  

Eligibility for participation will be determined by the municipal judge based on guidelines and procedures set forth in the ordinance. 

Additionally, applicants are required to pay a nonrefundable application fee of $507, with a portion earmarked for the State’s Office of Prosecution Services. 

Once accepted into the program, participants are responsible for various payments and fees, including restitution, court referral officer fees, drug/alcohol testing fees and costs associated with treatment programs. The ordinance outlines specific fees for DUI and marijuana possession cases. 

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