For those charged in Austin with a Felony level offense possession of a controlled substance, there is often the opportunity to stay out of district court, and to have the case dismissed, if you qualify for and complete the Travis County Drug Diversion / S.H.O.R.T. program. (S.H.O.R.T. stands for System of Healthy Options for Release and Transition.)
For those seeking to learn about this program, let me tell you this: the SHORT program is no cakewalk. I often tell prospective clients that the one year they will spend completing the SHORT program is much tougher than one year of felony probation. Of course, the catch is this:
(1) you don’t get just one year of probation for a felony offense in Texas, because the minimum is two years, and many folks get somewhere between five and ten years of probation for felony drug offenses. And…
(2) probation stays on your record. If it’s deferred probation, you may be eligible for a motion for non-disclosure, but never an expunction. If you successfully complete SHORT, you can apply for an expunction, which completely wipes the arrest off of your record.
So while it may be true that SHORT is more difficult to complete than even a probation; but it’s still well worth it. When I hear clients tell me that some lawyer told them not to bother with the program, I always think that lawyer is trying to get himself a client, rather than help the person the best way they know how.
The Admission criteria for SHORT are listed here.