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John Melis, Expert
Hi, I’m John, solicitor, and reviewing your post, and may need to ask a few questions a long the way to assist you.
A diversion program is a way to deal with your matter out of the court system and give you a chance to avoid a criminal record.
If you follow the conditions of your diversion plan, the police drop the charges and there will be no finding of guilt. That means no criminal record.
A diversion plan usually goes for a year.
You will be eligible if:
If you are eligible, the informant (usually the police officer who charged you) will need to give you a diversion recommendation. Then the magistrate will need to decide to grant diversion. As a general rule, they will do this if:
You cannot get diversion for driving offences such as:
If you are accepted for diversion you will still get any demerit points for any driving offences. VicRoads looks after the demerit points system, not the Magistrates’ Court.
How to ask for a diversion when you go to court
Before doing anything, you must accept that you were responsible for the offence. This does not mean that you are pleading guilty. But it does mean that you are going before the magistrate saying that you know you did something wrong.
If you are granted diversion and you stick to the conditions, there will be no finding of guilt. That means no criminal record.
Tell the counter staff that you are asking for diversion
Go to the court counter and tell the staff there that you are going to ask the magistrate to adjourn your case so you can ask the informant for a diversion recommendation. The staff will send your file into the courtroom. This lets the magistrate know that your case can be heard.
Stay close to the courtroom or go in there and wait for your name to be called. This may take a while. Make sure you bow to the magistrate as you go into the courtroom.
When your name is ***** ***** to the bar table. Go to the opposite end of the table from the police prosecutor. Stand when you speak to the magistrate.
The charge is read and you make your request.
The court clerk calls out your name you stand at the bar table. Tell the magistrate that you would like to ask for a diversion.
The magistrate may adjourn the case so you can ask the informant for a diversion recommendation.
This is not the same thing as being granted diversion. There are still a few steps to go.
Write to the informant for a diversion recommendation
This is very important. The informant must agree to recommend you for diversion. If the informant has not already made a diversion recommendation you or your lawyer can write a letter asking for this.
The details of the informant should be in the charge sheet.
Note: sometimes the informant will serve a diversion notice on you at the same time as you were served the police brief. If the informant is at court, they will have a copy of the diversion notice and your matter can go straight to a diversion hearing. Go to the diversion counter and ask for your matter to go ahead for a diversion hearing.
What should I put in my letter to the informant?
It may be helpful to include:
If the informant agrees
The informant will file a diversion notice with the court. This lets the court know that the police have recommended diversion and that the court can book you in for a diversion hearing. At this hearing, the magistrate decides whether they agree with the police and will agree to grant you diversion.
Before coming back to court, get any paperwork that you can to back up what you have said in your letter. Bring this to court.
Going back to court
A diversion co-ordinator will interview you before the diversion hearing. They may talk through some things that you may be asked to do if you are on the diversion program.
When you go into the courtroom for the hearing, the magistrate or registrar reads the statement of alleged facts. Usually they will decide whether to grant you a diversion ‘on the papers’. This means that you will not need to be there while they read the paperwork.
The magistrate also reads any supporting materials such as:
If the magistrate agrees to grant you diversion, they will tell you the conditions of your diversion program.
If they decide not to grant diversion, you may get a chance to talk to them directly in a hearing. If you have a lawyer, they may be able to talk for you.
If there was a victim
A victim could be someone who was injured or someone who had something stolen from them. The diversion staff will have written to the victim to find out if they want you to get diversion. If the victim does not want this, you may not get diversion. If the victim does not say anything, you may still be granted diversion.
If the informant or the magistrate do not agree
If you do not stick to the conditions of the diversion program
Your matter is put back into the court system. You will have to go back to court. The magistrate may put you back into the diversion program if you can show that you have now completed all parts of it.
If the magistrate does not agree to put you back onto diversion, then you must decide if you are pleading guilty or not guilty.
Thank you for reaching out today.
You have a legal right to protect your interests in this important situation.
I am a user like you in this chat forum to assist in your important question today.
Thank you kindly for rating me with 5 stars, which helps me support the community.
You can come back to this post any time to ask questions without additional charge.
I hope I have assisted with answering your important question today, and thank you for supporting the community.
John Melis, Expert
You may be entitled to legal aid, and it's worthwhile giving them a telephone cool tomorrow
Here are some legal aid contact details for you
Legal AID Victoria
Melbourne VIC 3000
GPO Box 4380
Melbourne VIC 3001
Tel: 1300 792 387
Level 1, Building 1
Broadmeadows Station Centre
1100 Pascoe Vale Rd
Broadmeadows VIC 3047
Tel: (03) 9302 8777
Dandenong VIC 3175
Tel: (03) 9767 7111
Cnr O'Grady Ave & Dandenong Rd
Frankston VIC 3199
Tel: (03) 9784 5222
Ringwood VIC 3134
Tel: (03) 9259 5444
1/474 Ballarat Rd
Sunshine VIC 3020
Tel: (03) 9300 5333
You are welcome, and thank you for supporting the community.