After a Year of DIVERT

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For your perusal: Harris County misdemeanor courts, DWI statistics compared between the year ending July 31, 2010 and the previous year (roughly DIVERT and pre-DIVERT).August 2009-July 2010 August 2008-July 2009DWI Cases Pendingat Start of Period6,6876,039New DWI Cases Filed12,31511,341DWI Motions toRevoke Probation Filed775656Other DWI CasesReaching Docket107Total DWI Cases on Docket19,78718,043DWI Convictions (Guilty Pleas)8,1878,917DWI Convictions (Bench Trial)21DWI Convictions(Guilty Plea to Jury)81DWI Convictions(Not Guilty Plea to Jury)9686Total DWI Convictions8,2939,005DWI Deferred Adjucation*11DWI Acquittals (Bench Trial)12DWI Acquittals (Jury Verdict)7377DWI Acquittals (Directed Verdict)29Total DWI Acquittals7688DWI Dismissals("Insufficient Evidence")319386DWI Dismissals(Other Reasons)1,9081,107Total DWI Dismissals2,2271,493Motions to Revoke DWIProbation Granted434365Motions to Revoke DWIProbation Denied347403All Other DWI Dispositions21Total Other DWI Dispositions783769Total DWI Dispositions11,38011,356Cases Pendingat End of Period8,4076,687

I wanted to see how DIVERT might have affected these statistics, so I asked the Harris Count DA's Office for some DIVERT numbers, and got them (except where noted, numbers are for August 2009, when the DIVERT program began, till August 24, 2010, so they don't quite line up with the Office of Court Administration statistics:

DIVERT applicants: 2624;DIVERT offers by HCDA:2111 [November 2009-August 24, 2010];Defendants who accepted HCDA's DIVERT offer: 1996;DIVERT completions:3;DIVERT revocations:64.

Some commenters had suggested when DIVERT was proposed that police officers, knowing that first-time offenders would have the option of DIVERT, would make fewer DWI arrests. That clearly didn't happen.

DWI filings are up by 974, or 8.5%, non-DIVERT guilty pleas to judges are down (by 730, 8.2%), jury trials are steady, and dismissals are up by 734, or almost 60%. But the State did better in DWI jury trials from August 2009 to July 2010 (96/171, or 56%) than it had done in the preceding year (86/172, or 50%).

Overall convictions are down because there were fewer non-DIVERT guilty pleas to judges. Guilty pleas to juries are up 700%, from one to eight (these seven people were seeking lower punishment than the State would agree to.)

If the goal of DIVERT was to get people who would otherwise fight their cases to instead accept responsibility, it appears to be a success: there were (bearing in mind the slop in the numbers, since DIVERT pleas didn't begin immediately and the DA's numbers cover an extra 24 days) around 10,191 guilty pleas (DIVERT and non-DIVERT) between August 2009 and August 2010, a 14% increase over the previous year.

Last year I took the number of people who didn't plead guilty, and divided it into the number of people who got their cases dismissed or prevailed at trial. The result was.945-94.5% of people who didn't plead guilty wound up beating their DWI cases in Harris County.

From August 2009 to July 2010, 98 people pled "not guilty" in Harris County and were convicted; 1,581 2,303 people were acquitted or had their cases dismissed. So 93.8% 95.9% of people who didn't plead guilty wound up beating their DWI cases in Harris County-less than the year before, but still not shabby odds.

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