Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion (OC-PAD)
Orange County Pre-Arrest Diversion (OC-PAD) Program
Summary of Program
With the support and planning of Judicial District 15B District Attorney James R. Woodall, Public Defender Susan K. Seahorn, the Orange County Criminal Justice Resource Department, the Sheriff of Orange County, and the Chiefs of Police for Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough and UNC, a new Pre-Arrest Diversion Program (OC-PAD) was initiated for certain low-level misdemeanor adult first offenders on February 4, 2019.
The purpose of the OC-PAD is to provide law enforcement officers the discretion to divert individuals who commit certain eligible low-level misdemeanor offenses from the criminal justice system and to provide these individuals with accountability, appropriate programming that addresses any therapeutic needs and to provide information about the collateral consequences of criminal justice involvement. The goal is to increase community safety and well-being by offering earlier and direct access to interventions and information that reduce the likelihood of recidivism and allow law enforcement to prioritize more pressing public safety issues. Pre-arrest diversion programs are more effective and less costly than court referrals and incarceration and have long-term economic benefits for social service and medical systems. In addition, pre-arrest diversion improves community relations with law enforcement, reduces racial disparities and improves public health outcomes.
Rather than issuing a citation or making an arrest where probable cause exists, law enforcement officers in Orange County will instead have the discretion to issue an OC-PAD referral that will initiate the pre-arrest diversionary process by directing the individual to contact the Diversion Coordinator at the Criminal Justice Resource Department. The referring officer, upon confirming eligibility for OC-PAD, will simultaneously complete an Incident Report and an OC-PAD Referral Form to forward to the Diversion Coordinator. The referred individual will be given a card with information about the OC-PAD Program and will be required to contact the Diversion Coordinator within 72 hours of the incident.
The Diversion Coordinator or CJRD Director will meet with each referred individual to complete an intake assessment and prepare a diversion plan. Diversion plans will include programming tailored for the individual, and can include sanctions such as community service hours, mental health and substance use treatment, educational classes, and restorative justice opportunities. After a period of no more than 90 days, the Diversion Coordinator will determine if there has been successful compliance with the diversion plan terms. If there is compliance, no charges will be filed. If there has not been compliance, the Coordinator will notify the Law Enforcement officer who made the referral so that the filing of formal charges can be considered.
It is important to note that this program should not be used UNLESS the law enforcement officer would otherwise initiate a formal criminal process.