Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Diversion Program

Domestic violence cases are very difficult for the prosecutor to prove at trial. As a result, many of these cases are dismissed before trial. If you were arrested for domestic violence, you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney who is experienced in fighting these difficult cases. You need an attorney who can help you prepare the case for trial with the goal of forcing the prosecutor to drop the charges outright without any admission of guilt.

Before you agree to enter a domestic violence misdemeanor diversion program, call us to find out all of the downsides that come along with entering this program. If you enter the program without talking to an attorney, you are giving up important rights because you must waive your right to a speedy trial, the right to discovery (being able to see the police reports and the statement of the alleged victim), and the right to withdraw the guilty plea. You also waive any right to contest the State Attorney's Offices determination of noncompliance and termination from the program.

In very unusual cases in which the evidence is overwhelming, we explain to our client the possible benefits of entering the Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Diversion Program. But in the vast majority of our cases, this program is NOT appropriate. When the accusations are false or exaggerate, the only acceptable outcome is an outright dismissal so that a person is immediately able to apply to expunge the record, if eligible.

Attorneys for Domestic Violence Diversion in Fort Lauderdale, FL

The experience domestic violence defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represent clients charged with a wide variety of violent crimes throughout Broward County, including Fort Lauderdale, Deerfield Beach, Plantation, and Hollywood.

Many of our clients are "first-time" offenders who have no prior record. We can help you understand the pros and cons of entering any type of diversion program in Broward County, FL, so that you can make an informed decision. During the initial consultation, we can help you understand the charges pending against them and ways to fight the case at trial and during pretrial motions.

After an arrest for domestic violence in Broward County, FL, the prosecutor with the State Attorney"s Office might make an offer for a Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Diversion. This program is designed for people who are guilty of domestic violence, want to admit their wrongdoing and wish to participate in a program aimed at reversing the cycle of domestic violence.

When the person has lost their children in a dependency action, completing the diversion program and counseling might be the only way they can be reunited with their children, although this situation is a tiny minority of the cases we see. In the vast majority of our cases, our clients is FAR better off fighting the charges for an outright dismissal.


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Broward County Diversion Program Information Center


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Types of DV Charges Eligible for the Diversion Program in Broward County, FL

The types of misdemeanor charges that are eligible for the Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Program include:

The most common charges in this program are charges for domestic battery. Not all battery charges are eligible. If the case involves only minor intention touchings that do not result in serious physical injury, then the offense is generally admissible for the program.

Likewise, battery offenses that only result in minor red marks, minor scratches and/or minor bruising are eligible. If it is alleged that there is probable cause to believe the defendant with substantial force slapped, punched, kicked, or pushed the alleged victim to the ground, then the offense would not be eligible. Any degrading actions such as urinating or spitting are not eligible. Additionally, any battery in which the alleged victim is strangled or choked

If it is alleged that there is probable cause to believe the defendant with substantial force slapped, punched, kicked, or pushed the alleged victim to the ground, then the offense would not be eligible. Any battery offense involving probable cause of a degrading act such as urinating or spitting are not eligible. Additionally, any battery in which the alleged victim is strangled or choked are not eligible.

Other offenses that are automatically ineligible for the diversion program include violation of the pre-trial release no contact order or a violation of injunction against domestic violence order.


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Other Eligibility Requirements for the Domestic Violence Diversion Program

The prosecutor with the Broward State Attorney's Office has wide discretion when determining who is eligible for diversion. The prosecutor makes this decision on a case by case basis dependent upon the facts surrounding the charge.

In some cases, a person's prior criminal record might make them ineligible. For example, if the defendant has more than one adult felony arrest and/or conviction or more than one prior conviction for a non-violent misdemeanor, then the defendant is not eligible.

Any prior domestic violence arrests, convictions and /or pending filed not in custody charges will automatically preclude consideration for the program. Only one diversion program is allowed in a person's lifetime, therefore, if a person previously entered a diversion program, they will not be eligible to participate.


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What Happens at the Domestic Battery Arraignment?

The initial determination that a person is eligible for DMVDP is usually made at arrangement. The Defendant then has only 30 days after arraignment to elect to enter the program. To enter the program, the defendant must enter a “guilty” plea. Sentencing is then set eight months from the date of the plea. If the program has been completed, the plea will be vacated and the case will be "nolle prossed."

Unless extraordinary circumstances can be shown, the prosecutor with the Broward State Attorney’s Office will not waive the time periods that are strictly enforced.


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What are the Consequences of Pleading Guilty to Domestic Battery?

You must enter a guilty plea to the charges in order to participate in this eight-month program. If you successfully complete the program, the plea will be vacated and the case will be "nolle prossed" which means dropped by the prosecutor with the Broward State Attorney's Office. If you have never been convicted of any other crime, you would then be eligible for expunge the record.

If you have any prior conviction, then you will not be eligible to seal or expunge this record. This means that anyone would be able to look at the docket online and see that you entered a "guilty" plea because you were guilty, although after completing the diversion program the charges were dropped.


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Rules and Regulations of the Broward County's DVMDP

The rules and regulations of the Broward County Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Diversion Program (DVMDP) begins right after a conviction. After entering the guilty plea to the domestic violence charge, the defendant must report to probation and abide by the rules and regulations of the program including: 

      • the successful completion of the twenty six (26) week Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP) ordered by the Court;
      • the BIP intake assessment must be completed within 10 days after the plea is entered;
      • if substance abuse is suspended, the defendant must submit to a substance abuse evaluation and any recommended treatment;
      • the defendant must also agree to random urinalysis / breathalyzer testing for alcohol or controlled substances.

Even more problematic, if the Probation Department Program Staff Supervisor thinks you need special counseling then you will also be required to complete that counseling as well.

If you fail to comply with any aspect of the program, then the Broward Sheriff’s Office Probation Department will notify the State Attorney’s Office, set sentencing and send notice to the defendant and his attorney. If you fail to appear at the sentencing hearing, then a warrant will be issued for your arrested based on the failure to appear in court for sentencing.


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Additional Resources

Broward's Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Diversion Program- Visit the website of the State Attorney's Office for the 17th Judicial Circuit in Broward County for additional information regarding the minimum eligibility requirements to complete in a diversion program for domestic violence misdemeanor charges.

Rules of Broward County's DMVDP - Find a letter from the Office of the State Attorney, 17th Judicial Circuit Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Diversion Program. The letter explains the policy, procedures, and minimum eligibility requirements for the Office of the State Attorney’s approval for entry in the Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Diversion Program (DMVDP). The program si administered and supervised by the Broward Sheriff’s Office Probation Department. 


This article was last updated on Friday, November 3, 2017.

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