By Clayton T. Robertson (RobertsonLitigation.com) (Criminal Defense Attorney)
Even when you hire a private criminal defense attorney, you should not overlook other "alternative" sentencing options possibly available to you. These options include what are called collaborative courts. Some of these courts incorporate forms of "diversion" available to qualifying offenders. The availability of these programs depends on the county in which you allegedly committed your offense. Several are statutorily-mandated, while others are not mandated (and even when they are mandated, some counties invest more money and effort into setting up the infrastructure needed to make these programs truly effective). Moreover, some counties are more "progressive" than others. This comes down to the tension in the criminal justice system between "retribution" and "rehabilitation."
When you consult with a potential attorney, ask about these programs and how they possibly relate to your case and whether you qualify. If you qualify, particularly for a form of "diversion," it might reduce the potential effort your attorney needs to spend on your case, which means you could negotiate a better legal services fee with the attorney.
Depending on the jurisdiction, collaborative courts (or similar programs) include the following:
Young Adult Court
Early Disposition Program
Alternative Prosecution Program
Arraignment Court Early Resolution
Women’s Reentry Court
Mental Health Diversion Court
Behavioral Health Court
Veterans Treatment Court
Primary Caregivers of Children
Intensive Supervision Court
Domestic Violence Court
Proposition 36 Court
Community Realignment Court
Prostitution Diversion Program
Gang Alternative Sentencing
Peer Court (Juvenile Program)
Juvenile Recovery Court
Youth Development Court
Another consideration, in addition to whether you qualify, is the amount of time and effort you need to expend to successfully complete these programs. This is another aspect of your case on which a qualified criminal defense attorney can advise you. In some situations, the "offer" from the prosecutor provides you a quicker form of resolution than a lengthy or time-intensive participation in one of these programs, which you may or may not want. (Some programs are more or less intensive than others.) Again, qualified legal counsel can help clarify these issues with you, including program availability in your area.
For those interested in pursuing this topic further, here's the link to the California Association of Collaborative Courts: https://www.ca2c.org/. Another site is the "Collaborative Justice Courts" page on the official California Courts website: https://www.courts.ca.gov/programs-collabjustice.htm.