For many minor criminal offenses, prosecutors often offer people the opportunity to enter into a diversion program, instead of being prosecuted.
Pretrial Diversion is an alternative to prosecution. As a result, a court cannot sentence a person into it. Only the prosecution can choose whether to offer someone an alternative to going to court.
The state (the prosecution) can also choose what terms they may offer as an alternative for being prosecuted. Diversion is the most common alternative to being prosecuted.
When someone enters into a diversion program, they will usually be required to perform certain tasks such as community service, counseling for alcohol and drug dependency, and even attending values clarification courses.
To make sure a person completes their assigned tasks, their progress is usually supervised by a probation officer. This is where there is sometimes confusion. The probation officer's role is to report to the prosecutor whether someone successfully has completed the terms and conditions of their diversion program.
That being said, since diversion is an alternative to being prosecuted, anyone in the program is not actually on probation. A probation officer is merely supervising them.
What happens is someone violates the rules of a diversion program and are kicked out?
I was recently called by someone who thought they were facing a probation violation for testing positive for drugs while meeting with her probation officer. She thought she was facing a probation violation; she was not.
I informed her that she faced being kicked out of the program and losing the benefit of not being prosecuted. As a result, once removed from the program the prosecution of her case will resume.
She will get a new arraignment date, and her case will proceed in the traditional manner. She could enter into a plea bargain or even take her case to trial.