Tarrant County offers Specific Diversion Programs for some Criminal Defendants

Tarrant County is one of many counties in Texas that offer specialty programs to address the needs of a specific defendant population. These programs target a specific audience such as juvenile defendants, first time offenders, military veterans, etc. These specialty programs are called “diversion” programs and often allow the defendant to avoid a conviction and criminal record if they complete the program requirements.

Jail cell

Purpose and Benefits

Diversion programs were created in order to provide offenders essential services that can address underlying causes of criminal behavior, such as drug abuse and alcohol abuse. The programs include specific treatment programs aimed at the root cause of the behavior and are rigorously monitored and supervised. The goal of the programs is to divert the defendant from the criminal justice system to treatment and social programs. 

Research indicates that diversion programs can reduce substance abuse, criminal behavior, and re-arrest. Diversion programs often allow defendants the opportunity to keep their job and establish a normal lifestyle without the burden of a criminal record – all while receiving needed assistance. 

As a criminal defense lawyer, getting clients into these programs can be extremely beneficial in getting clients the help they need and the result they desire. I have practiced criminal law for over 20 years in Fort Worth and I am extremely familiar with every diversion program Tarrant County offers. I work hard to ensure my clients have a fair opportunity for any program in which they are eligible.


Critics argue that diversion programs are too lenient on defendants and places the needs of the defendant above the needs of the victims. However, well-run diversion programs consider both the needs of the victim, the defendants, as well as the crime committed and work to match those that have the greatest chance of success with the right program. Simply because a defendant does not go to jail does not mean that justice is not served. Many programs include mandatory education, restitution, community service hours, drug screening, as well as other requirements that directly relate to the original charge.

How they Work

In Tarrant County, you are required to have an attorney who can assist you in applying for a diversion program. Applying does not guarantee acceptance. However, I have over 20 years’ experience in getting clients accepted into diversion programs. How and when a person applies can have a significant effect on whether they are accepted. I am a strong advocate for any client who has a chance at admittance. 

Each case is unique and the cost benefit of applying to these programs must be weighed. Diversion programs often have serious consequences if they are not completed. For some clients, it may be more beneficial to fight a charge than agree to enter a diversion program, even though they may be eligible to apply.

Tarrant County currently has the following diversion programs:

  • DPP (Deferred Prosecution Program)
  • Veterans Court Diversion Program
  • Mental Health Diversion Program
  • Felony Alcohol Intervention Program
  • Youthful Offender Diversion Program
  • Domestic Violence Diversion Program
  • First Offender Drug Program
  • DIRECT Court Program
  • RISE (Reaching Independence through Self-Empowerment)

If you have been arrested or are under investigation, please call my office to discuss your case. Time is of the essence and quick action can be extremely beneficial. You need an experience criminal defense lawyer to evaluate your case and discuss your options. If you are eligible to apply for a diversion program, I have over 20 years assisting my clients with these programs. 

Other counties in Texas may offer some diversion programs as well. If you case is in another Texas county, please call my office to discuss your case further. 

Call the Law Office of Stephen Handy at 817-284-2263

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