Section 3. The probation officers of a district or municipal court, or their official designee, when gathering information in accordance with section eighty-five of chapter two hundred and seventy-six, 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.
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.
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.