A way for low-level offenders to avoid a criminal record by undertaking conditions that benefit the victim, the community and themselves.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence you may be eligible for the Criminal Justice Diversion Program – a diversion.
You should seek legal advice if you have been charged with a criminal offence. See the legal help page for more information.
While a diversion is aimed at first time offenders, it does not exclude someone with prior convictions. However, a judicial officer may take prior convictions into consideration when determining the suitability of a diversion.
The completion of a diversion has many benefits including the avoidance of a criminal record. It also allows for the participation in counselling and / or treatment to reduce the likelihood of reoffending.
Where a charge involves a victim, the Magistrates’ Court seeks their view of the matter. This may include:
- whether they agree with the course of action
- the amount of compensation sought for damage to property
- how the crime has affected them.
The victim does not have to respond but is entitled to express a view by letter or in person on the day of the hearing. If requested, the Magistrates’ Court will inform the victim of the outcome of the hearing. See the victims of crime page for more information.
The steps below outline the diversion process. It does not cover all situations.
STEP 1 – Confirm if a diversion is available
The prosecution – generally the police officer that issued the charge - must agree to a diversion. The offence must be a summary offence and not be subject to a minimum or fixed sentence or penalty. Acknowledgement and responsibility of the offence is required.
The prosecution can be contacted to discuss the possibility of a diversion. The charge and summons will list the contact details of the police officer that issued the charge.
If the prosecution recommends a diversion, a diversion notice will be served on you. The court will also receive a copy confirming the prosecution’s consent for a diversion.
Ensure the court has its copy before the first court hearing – called the mention hearing.
STEP 2 – Attend court
You must attend court on the date listed on the charge and summons. When you arrive at court, go to the registry and ask to speak to the registrar about your diversion notice.
Before the mention hearing, a registrar will ask you to complete a questionnaire and interview you. This helps the court decide if a diversion is appropriate and identify services that may address the offending behaviour. The registrar may speak with the victim to see if they agree with the diversion and if any restitution is sought.
The court may send the questionnaire before the mention hearing if the diversion notice was received more than seven days in advance.
STEP 3 – Judicial officers’ decision
The matter will proceed to a judicial officer for a decision after the questionnaire and interview are complete. The decision will be heard in court.
If a diversion is granted, the judicial officer will outline a set of conditions that must be completed as part of a diversion plan. Conditions may include:
- an apology to the victim
- compensation to the victim
- counselling and / or treatment
- a donation to a charitable organisation.
The matter is then adjourned and a return court date set - called the completion hearing – to allow for the completion of the conditions.
If a diversion is not granted, the matter will be referred to the general listings of the court.
STEP 4 – Follow the diversion plan
It is important to follow your diversion plan.
Prior to the completion hearing, documentation should be provided to the court to prove all conditions of the diversion plan have been completed.
If documentation is not provided, attendance at a completion hearing may be required. At the hearing, a judicial registrar will hear evidence that the diversion plan has or has not been completed.
What happens next?
If the conditions of the diversion plan are complete, the charges are dismissed with no finding of guilt and recorded in a similar way to an official warning. No criminal record will be recorded.
If the conditions of the diversion plan are not complete, the matter will be referred for a further court hearing. All information regarding the diversion will also be removed from the court file.
For more information about the Criminal Justice Diversion Program, contact your nearest court.
- Confirm if the prosecution recommends a diversion.
- Make sure the court has a copy of the diversion notice.
Attend court on the hearing date and:
- complete a questionnaire
- have an interview with a registrar.
- If a judicial officer approves the diversion, complete all conditions of the diversion plan.
This is not a full list of legislation associated with this topic. See the Victorian Government's legislation website for more information.
You can get a diversion for some driving offences. You will still receive demerit points and a fine if applicable.
The diversion program is not available for driving offences that attract a mandatory loss of license. For example excessive speeding, drink or drug driving or refusing to do alcohol or drug testing.