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Diversion Program, Conviction Alternatives Program (CAP), and Leading Emerging Adults to Develop Success (LEADS) Pilot Program

Criminal defendants whose criminal activity is related to certain criminogenic and other prognostic risk factors including substance abuse may be eligible for the Conviction Alternatives Program (CAP, formerly ATIP), or the Leading Emerging Adults to Develop Success (LEADS) Pilot Program. Diversion, which can occur before or after a change of plea, is offered at the discretion of the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO).

Prior to entry of a guilty plea, a defendant will be assessed for the CAP or LEADS program by the Pretrial Services Agency (PSA) and a plea agreement may be negotiated with the USAO.

While the presiding judge may not refer a defendant to be assessed for CAP at any time during the pre-conviction stage of the case, after conviction, the presiding judge may refer a defendant to CAP based on a final assessment finding the defendant is eligible. A presiding judge may not refer a defendant to LEADS without a plea agreement.

A brief description of each program follows.  Skip to Diversion, CAP, or LEADS.  

Diversion

The USAO has had a Pretrial and Post-plea Diversion Program for many years. The USAO may offer Pretrial Diversion at any stage of the criminal justice process prior to sentencing, or the PSA or defense counsel may refer candidates to the USAO for consideration. Pretrial Diversion does not require a guilty plea, but each participating defendant must agree to a Speedy Trial Act exclusion and may be required by the USAO to agree to a statement of facts supporting the underlying offense. Defendants are supervised by the PSA for an agreed period, typically between six months to eighteen months. Upon successful completion of the program, as determined by the USAO, the USAO will take whatever action is set forth in the Pretrial Diversion Agreement, which typically includes dismissal of the charges. The USAO has also offered Post-Plea Diversion in the past and may continue to do so when appropriate.

Conviction Alternatives Program (CAP, formerly ATIP)

U.S. Courts video: Northern District CAP (Formerly ATIP) and Reentry Programs

The USAO may offer a plea agreement to defendants found suitable by the PSA for CAP. The assessment process begins with the PSA identifying potentially eligible candidates within 60 days from their initial appearance. If so identified, the parties may request that the PSA conduct a full assessment (final assessment) to determine if a defendant is suitable for the program. This assessment can take up to 60 additional days. Within 30 days after receiving the final assessment, the USAO will schedule a meeting with the defendant and his or her counsel and may offer a plea agreement. The plea agreement will offer incentives for successful completion for consideration by the sentencing judge (e.g., a non-custodial sentence, dismissal of mandatory minimum charges or sentence-enhancing allegations, or an agreement to recommend a lower sentence, and the possibility of dismissal) for their post-arrest rehabilitation. Without a plea agreement, or if the defendant fails to successfully complete the program, the defendant may not receive incentives generally promised in a plea agreement.

The defendant will plead guilty pursuant to the plea agreement, and the assessment will be provided to the presiding judge. The parties will have an opportunity to be heard.  Defendants who are determined suitable by the presiding judge will be referred to the CAP team (which includes a district judge, magistrate judge, Pretrial Services Officer, clinician, AUSA, and assistant federal public defender) in the appropriate division. If the defendant is accepted by the CAP team, his or her case will be transferred for all purposes to the CAP district judge in that division.

In cases without a plea agreement, after entry of a guilty plea, the presiding judge may defer sentencing for a period of time and refer the defendant for an assessment of his or her suitability for CAP. The PSA will provide a report and recommendation to the presiding judge, and the parties will also have an opportunity to be heard. Defendants who are thereafter determined suitable for CAP by the presiding Judge will be referred to the CAP team in the appropriate division. If the defendant is accepted by the CAP team, his or her case will be transferred for all purposes to the CAP district judge in that division.

CAP is a highly structured, rigorous program that demands commitment and accountability. It includes frequent contact with the PSA to monitor conduct and provide direction, advice, and counseling; a curriculum for cognitive behavioral change; regular communication with family members, treatment providers, and counselors; verification of and help in securing residence and employment; and frequent drug testing. In addition, the CAP team meets with program participants twice each month. By providing defendants with this framework of supervision and services, the program seeks to help defendants learn from their mistakes, make better choices, engage in productive behavior, and reduce the risk of recidivism.

The collaborative process of supervision provides a greater level of enforcement and support from the judge who will eventually sentence the defendant and, at the same time, educates the judge and team members on the personal factors that affect the particular defendant.  If a defendant is placed on probation or supervised release, the Probation Office provides a seamless transition to supervision by an officer familiar with CAP and the particular defendant.

Please refer to CAP FAQs for further information about the program.

Judges participating in CAP:
District Judges Edward J. Davila, Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr., William H. Orrick III, and Ronald Whyte (retired)
Magistrate Judges Jacqueline S. Corley, Virginia DeMarchi, and Kandis Westmore

Pilot Program – Leading Emerging Adults to Develop Success (LEADS)

LEADS is a pilot program designed to connect certain emerging adult offenders, who may benefit in outsized ways from early intervention, with community services and the possibility for noncustodial sentences or dismissal of charges if those emerging adults successfully complete the pilot program’s requirements. The assessment process begins with the PSA identifying potentially eligible defendants between the ages of 18 and 26 within 60 days from their initial appearance. If so identified, the parties may request that the PSA conduct a full assessment (final assessment) to determine if a defendant is suitable for the program. The full assessment can take up to 60 additional days. Within 30 days after receiving the final assessment, the USAO will schedule a meeting with the PSA, the defendant, and his or her counsel. The parties would meet and confer to determine a defendant’s Individualized Success Plan for completion of LEADS. The USAO, in its discretion, may offer a plea agreement to defendants between the ages of 18 and 26 if they are found suitable for the LEADS program.

The LEADS Track I plea agreement generally promises dismissal for defendants in Criminal History Category I, and the LEADS Track II plea agreement generally promises a non-custodial sentence, dismissal of mandatory minimum charges or sentence-enhancing allegations and, in rare cases, the possibility of dismissal. 

A defendant will plead guilty pursuant to the plea agreement, and the PSA assessment will be provided to the presiding judge. Defendants will be required to appear at status hearings at agreed upon intervals (e.g., monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly) before the presiding judge (or a designated magistrate judge) who reviews a defendant’s progress at status conferences. The status hearings will be attended by the defendant, his or her counsel, the AUSA, and the pretrial services officer.

LEADS is a structured program that demands commitment and accountability from a defendant. In addition to status appearances before the Court, LEADS requires the participant to have  frequent contact with the program provider and the PSA.  The PSA will monitor conduct and provide direction, advice, and counseling; assistance in developing an Individualized Success Plan; a curriculum for cognitive behavioral change; regular communication with family members, treatment providers, and counselors; verification of and help in securing residence and employment; and frequent drug testing (if necessary). By providing defendants with this framework of supervision and services, the program seeks to help defendants learn from their mistakes, make better choices, engage in productive behavior, and reduce the risk of recidivism.

The collaborative process of supervision provides a greater level of enforcement and support from the judge who will eventually sentence the defendant and, at the same time, educates the judge, the PSA, and the prosecutor on the personal factors that affect the particular defendant. If a defendant is placed on probation or supervised release, the Probation Office provides a seamless transition to supervision by an officer familiar with LEADS and the particular defendant.

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