Pretrial diversion changes

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams today announced the creation of a “Diversion Courts Unit” to coordinate several pre-trial diversion programs in his office.

Williams said the new unit will be headed by Assistant District Attorney Derek Riker, 38, a city prosecutor for five years.

Williams called changes part of “focusing our resources on violent offenders. By diverting more non-violent offenders into programs that will address their needs, these individuals are less likely to become repeat offenders.”

Diversion programs are an alternative to prosecution and trial are used in misdemeanors and other lesser crimes and with some first-offenders. Generally, the participant undergoes counseling and is put on a probationary period. It the participant successfully completes the program, the charges are dismissed and the criminal record is expunged.

Among the District Attorney’s diversion programs are Accelerated Misdemeanor Program (AMP), Small Amount of Marijuana program (SAM), Bench Warrant Court, Drug Treatment Court and DUI Treatment court.

The Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) program and Veteran’s Court will remain under the supervision of Pre-Trial Unit Chief Guy Garant, Williams said.

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