What is Prosecutor-Led Diversion?

Prosecutor-Led Diversion programs are characterized as diversion programs where prosecutors are responsible for deciding:

  • What the eligibility criteria are for a given program,
  • If a diversion offer is made in a given case,
  • What conditions must be met to complete the program, and
  • If a program participant has successfully completed those conditions.

It is not unusual for multiple criminal justice system partners to have input on these important decisions as many such programs involve cross-agency partnerships.  In a prosecutor-led diversion program, however, these responsibilities are primarily exercised by the prosecutor.


Diversion began to emerge in the criminal justice system as early as the 1940s and proliferated in the 1960s and beyond.  Programs begun prior to the 1990s tended to be prosecutor-led diversion options, while those created since the 1990s have tended to be court-led or pretrial services-led initiatives.  Despite this general tendency, prosecutor-led diversion programs have existed and continued to thrive throughout and have given prosecutors an important alternative means of resolving cases for appropriate individuals.  Generally, such programming has tended to be applied to first time violators charged with less serious offenses.

But a new era of prosecutorial innovation and a desire for more disposition options is changing the nature and scope of how prosecutor-led diversion operates.  These innovations are allowing prosecutor-led diversion to be applied safely to larger and more challenging populations and to more serious offenses. This initiative hopes to support and encourage these developments.