TASC Diversion Program in Criminal Law in Arizona
Introduction to TASC Diversion Program in Criminal Law in Arizona
Diversion programs are offered in the majority of states in the United States, Arizona included. The theory behind diversion programs is a rehabilitative theory rather than a punishment theory.i The states have recognized that first time offenders of low level offenses should not trigger a full blown criminal case process.ii The states have also recognized the fact that low level offenders are individuals who may not be well served through the criminal justice program.iii This is where rehabilitative theories come into play. A TASC diversion program provides offenders with counseling, rather than a punishment, which could help deter the individual from becoming a repeat offender.iv
What is Diversion Exactly?
Diversion is a program within a state that has been created by the state’s legislature and signed into law.v The specifics of each diversion program includes information about what crimes will qualify for diversion and what the characteristics of the offender will have that can enter into the program.vi In Arizona, and many other states, in order for the offender to qualify for a diversion program they must formally admit guilt by entering into a guilty plea or a no-contest please.vii In states that require a guilty plea in order to attend diversion, the court will suspend the punishment until the offender has had the opportunity to complete their diversion program.viii This suspension means that the court does not formally enter the plea into the system, which allows for the court to erase it in the future upon successful completion.ix
Diversion Programs Generally
There is a fee associated with a diversion program that is due to the court.x These fees are separate from the cost of the actual diversion program, so it is viewed more like a fine than anything else. Diversion programs can last anywhere from six months to a year, or even longer depending on the crime and the offender.xi These programs will emphasize counseling, treatment, and behavior modification over the use of punitive measures that the criminal justice system usually utilizes.
After successfully completing the diversion program, the case will return to the court and the plea will be erased from the system.xii Even though the plea is dismissed and erased from the system, the record of the arrest will not be sealed or erased – so that will always be in the system and will likely come up on a background check. It is possible to look into either sealing that record or expungement, but that is an a long process in of itself.
If the offender does not successfully complete the diversion program, they must then appear back in court. For the states, like Arizona, that require a guilty plea for a diversion program, the individual will be sentenced based upon that guilty plea and a non-completion of the diversion program.xiii In states that do not require the guilty plea first, the defendant will have to now enter into the guilty plea and face sentencing.xiv The court will proceed as if the diversion program was never attempted.
What Crimes Qualify for Diversion?
Based upon legislative intent for the diversion program, the type of crimes that ordinarily qualify include minor and non-violent crimes.xv These will include petty theft, personal possession of certain drugs (meaning the individual did not have enough to be thought to have those drugs for sale), and in some states a driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can qualify for diversion.xvi Some states even include assaults that include very minor or no injuries, as well as some acts of domestic violence or child abuse or neglect.xvii
Which Individuals Qualify for Diversion?
The majority of diversion programs are available to individuals who are first time offenders with the crime that has been charged.xviii This could mean that the individual has other criminal offenses but those offenses are not the same as the one charged, or the individual has never been charged with any crimes before. Obviously if the individual has 15 prior criminal charges or convictions, diversion may not be available to them even if the current charge is for something brand new to their array of crimes.
The court will need to look at the individual and their background to make the necessary determination of whether diversion is appropriate for the offender. The court will also look at how many other diversion programs the individual has completed and when those programs were completed.
TASC Diversion Program
TASC stands for “Treatment Assessment Screening Center.” Arizona is just one of twenty other states that offers TASC diversion program. It is a non-profit organization that offers drug screening, drug education, counseling, and other substance support and specialized services catered to individuals. TASC is used as an intervention program, as well as a rehabilitative program. TASC is not just available as a diversion program in Arizona. The courts can utilize TASC testing during ongoing cases in both criminal and family law cases.
Individuals can always utilize TASC for personal needs without the court requiring this. Many individuals know TASC as a service that does urine analysis to test for drugs and/or alcohol, but TASC offers counseling and assistance with substance abuse. There are costs associated with it, but often times these programs are cheaper than other services in the area. The mission pillar of TASC is to promote the overall well-being of the community by providing behavioral health services, substance abuse treatment, education and supportive services..xix The vision statement of TASC is to create safe and strong drug free communities through absolute drug-deemed reduction xx
Conclusion to TASC Diversion Program in Criminal Law in Arizona
The current criminal justice system on a whole is suffering from being over crowded. Diversion programs and such similar are put into place to not only assist with rehabilitating individuals into a brighter future, but to assist the criminal justice system from becoming even more overwhelmed. There are thousands of criminal cases around the country, and there are far fewer judges. Diversion programs provide a unique way to combat this overcrowding while hopefully providing well needed help to criminal offenders.
The TASC diversion program is a unique program that Arizona, and many other states utilize, to assist individuals. It is really a “one stop shop” for diversion. TASC offers assessments based upon the individual’s need, as well as specialized counseling programs and a specific case manager to keep you on track. TASC can be utilized by individuals in the diversion program as well as individuals who just need assistance with combating substance abuse or other issues that could potentially land them in the middle of the criminal justice system.
i See Diversion Programs NOLO Legal Encyclopedia (Accessed February 22, 2017) http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/diversion-programs.html
vii See Diversion Programs NOLO Legal Encyclopedia (Accessed February 22, 2017) http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/diversion-programs.html
xiii See Diversion Programs NOLO Legal Encyclopedia (Accessed February 22, 2017) http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/diversion-programs.html
xix See Visions Statement TASC Solutions (Accessed February 22, 2017) http://www.tascsolutions.org/about-us/
xx See Mission Statement TASC Solutions (Accessed February 22, 2017) http://www.tascsolutions.org/about-us/