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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 3: Screening of defendants; continuance

Section 3. The probation officers of a district or municipal court, or an official designee of such a probation officer, when gathering information in accordance with section 85 of chapter 276, shall also screen each defendant for the purpose of enabling the judge at arraignment to consider the eligibility of the defendant for diversion to a program. The probation officers or an official designee shall also confirm the defendant's status as a veteran or as a person on active service in the armed forces of the United States and shall determine if the defendant has previously been diverted pursuant to clause (ii) of subsection (c) of section 4.

Any defendant who is qualified for consideration for diversion to a program may, at his arraignment, be afforded a fourteen-day continuance for assessment by the personnel of a program to determine if he would benefit from such program.

A defendant who is determined to be a veteran or a person on active service in the armed forces of the United States and who is qualified for consideration to diversion to a program may, at arraignment, be afforded a 30–day continuance for assessment by the United States Department of Veteran's Affairs or another state or federal agency with suitable knowledge and experience of veterans affairs to determine if the veteran or person on active service would benefit from such program.

If a defendant chooses to accept the offer of a continuance for the purpose of such an assessment, he shall so notify the judge at arraignment. Upon receipt of such notification, the judge shall grant a fourteen-day continuance. The judge, through the probation office or its official designee, shall direct the defendant to a program and shall inform said program of such action.

The judge may, in his discretion, grant a defendant who is preliminarily determined not to be eligible because of a failure to satisfy all the requirements of section two, a like fourteen-day continuance for assessment. In arriving at such a decision the opinion of the prosecution should be taken into consideration. Such a continuance may be granted upon the judge's own initiative or upon request by the defendant.