As an alternative to incarceration and/or other criminal penalties, more and more states are putting pre-trial diversion programs into place. These programs help defendants overcome underlying problems that may have contributed to their alleged criminal activities. These programs also play an invaluable role in helping to reduce overcrowded prison populations across the nation.

Unfortunately, lawmakers, judges and prosecutors typically take a harsh stance against violent crimes regardless of any underlying issues defendants may have. This means that pre-trial diversion programs for alleged violent offenders are scarce across all of the United States. Missouri does offer diversion programs, but they are not typically available for defendants facing possible violent crime convictions.

At this time, the only pre-trial diversion programs in the state address substance abuse issues and crimes committed by active military members and veterans. This may seem unfair to defendants who allegedly committed violent crimes because they suffer from mental health illnesses or other contributing factors.

It is not too difficult to understand why so many states hesitate to offer pre-trial diversion programs for alleged violent crime offenders. In most cases, it comes down to public safety and a widespread unwillingness to put residents at risk of becoming victims of violence. This means that defendants facing charges centered on violent crimes need to look elsewhere to preserve their freedom and their reputations.

In the end, working with a defense attorney remains the best way to avoid a conviction. Even if a conviction does occur, a lawyer’s defense efforts may make a huge difference in the severity of the penalties a court hands down.