Consult a qualified lawyer who specializes in diversion programs to help you mitigate the effects of your arrest
My Rights Law’s pretrial diversion program lawyers can help criminal defendants in California resolve criminal charges in the most favorable manner possible. California offers pretrial drug diversion programs, mental health diversion programs, juvenile diversion programs, and other potential arrangements that might be the perfect solution to your situation. Whatever the issue, rest assured that our skilled criminal defense attorneys are here for you. Reach out to My Rights Law at (888) 702-8882 or leave us a message on our secure contact form.
When someone is arrested for a crime in California, there may be alternatives to trial and possibly going to jail. One option is called a diversion program.
What Does Diversion Mean In Court?
Diversion programs allow a defendant to go through treatment, classes, payment of restitution, and other court-ordered conditions that ultimately lead to the dismissal of all charges. These programs are typically for first offenders with no criminal background.
In California, there are several different diversion programs. A first offender’s program covers most misdemeanors called the Misdemeanor Diversion Program. However, there are additional diversion programs for specific crimes, such as drug offenses and bad check offenses. Also, there are diversion programs for those with mental health issues and even one for those in the military.
Penal Code 1001.95(a) PC Misdemeanor Diversion Program
California’s Misdemeanor Diversion Program provides an alternative to criminal prosecution. Instead of a trial, a judge may “divert” the case and order a defendant to complete specific terms, conditions, and programs. While the defendant is in the program, charges are postponed for up to 24 months. During this time, the defendant completes all Court ordered requirements, including paying restitution to the victim, complying with any treatment, and other conditions ordered by the Court. Upon successful completion of the terms, the arrest is dismissed. The defendant may indicate they have no criminal record or arrests once the arrest is dismissed.
If the defendant allegedly violates any program terms, the Court will hold a hearing to determine whether there was a violation of the terms of the program. If there is a violation, the original charges proceed through the criminal justice system.
In addition to the Misdemeanor Diversion Program, California has additional programs specific to certain individuals and specific crimes. Those programs are discussed below.
Penal Code 1001.36 PC Mental Health Diversion Program
In California under PC 1001.36, those with mental health conditions may receive treatment in place of prosecution when they are charged with a crime. This program is designed to get those with mental health issues to help with their underlying conditions.
Defendant has a mental disorder (excluding pedophilia, antisocial personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder). The defense shall provide evidence of the defendant’s mental illness and include a recent diagnosis by a qualified mental health expert.
The Court is satisfied that the defendant’s mental disorder was a significant factor in the commission of the charged offense. Additionally, the Court may look at whether the defendant displayed symptoms consistent with the mental disorder near the time of the crime to determine if it was a significant factor that led to the criminal activity.
Defendant’s symptoms of the mental disorder motivating the criminal behavior would respond to mental health treatment according to a qualified mental health provider.
Defendant waives the right to a speedy trial.
Defendant agrees to comply with treatment.
The Court is satisfied that the defendant will not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.
This program allows participation by individuals with a variety of criminal charges. However, certain charges such as murder, voluntary manslaughter, and certain sex offenses will disqualify a defendant.
Once a defendant completes treatment, the criminal charges will be dismissed. The arrest is sealed for most purposes, and it will be as if the arrest had never happened.
Penal Code 1001.80 PC Military Diversion Program
California has a Military Diversion program under 1001.80 PC for those who have served or currently are serving in the Armed Forces. This program is typically for first offenders with misdemeanor charges such as DUI, drug possession, public drunkenness, and assault.
This diversion program has specific criteria as well. To qualify for the program, a defendant must be:
a prior or current member of the United States Military; and
diagnosed with PTSD, substance abuse, or mental health problems resulting from service in the military.
The defendant must be enrolled in focused treatment to address specific issues, including mental health treatment, substance abuse, sexual trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Upon completion of the program, all charges against the defendant are dismissed. The defendant will not need to disclose the arrest or diversion.
Penal Code 1000 PC Drug Diversion Program
The Drug Diversion Program under Penal Code 1000 affords defendants charged with drug possession an opportunity to avoid jail time through treatment and education. This program is designed to help those with substance abuse problems. The program is not for those charged with selling or possessing an amount large enough to sell.
There are four criteria for a defendant to be eligible:
Defendant has no other drug charges other than simple possession within the past five years
The current charge does not include a crime of violence or threatened violence
There is no evidence of more serious drug crimes (i.e., drug sales)
Defendant has had no felony convictions within the past five years
Upon successful completion of the program, the arrest is dismissed. The defendant may truthfully state they were not arrested for the offense unless applying for a job as a law enforcement officer.
Penal Code 1001.60 PC Bad Check Diversion Program
California also has a Bad Check Diversion Program. The Bad Check Diversion Program under 1001.60 PCprovides restitution to the victim without adding to the financial burden of the criminal justice system. The program is not to exceed six months so that repayment is quick and does not lag on forever. First-time offenders can avoid criminal prosecution by attending a mandatory intervention class and paying restitution. All of this is accomplished without any cost to the taxpayer.
The program is at the discretion of the County District Attorney. The district attorney determines if the case is appropriate to be referred to the bad check diversion program. In referring a matter to the bad check diversion program, the district attorney shall consider:
The amount of the bad check
If the person has a prior criminal record or has previously been diverted
The number of bad check grievances against the person previously received by the district attorney
Whether there are other bad check grievances currently pending against the person
The strength of the evidence, if any, of intent to defraud the victim
To complete the program, a defendant must:
Complete the class or classes conducted by the district attorney or private entity under contract with the district attorney
Pay full restitution to the victim of the bad check
Pay all costs and fees associated with the diversion program
Upon completion of the program, all charges will be dismissed. This information is confidential and cannot be used as evidence in a civil action regarding the bad check. The goal is to make the victim whole again by quickly getting restitution paid by the defendant.
These diversion programs aim to keep the defendant out of the system and get them the help they need so they stay out of the criminal justice system. These programs are for first offenders with prior substance abuse problems or mental health issues that contribute to the criminal charges. These programs are invaluable to those in need and the community around them. A diversion treatment program or community service that benefits Los Angeles County serves our state better than incarceration.
So, if you’re interested in learning more about pretrial diversion for your California criminal case or about how you can defend yourself against California criminal charges, contact an attorney for more information.
Please note that diversion only applies to certain offenses. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, call our Diversion Attorneys to discuss if you are eligible for one of the above programs. Don’t let an opportunity for help and dismissal of charges slip by without knowing what is available to you. For a free consultation about the details of your case, contact the experienced attorneys at My Rights Law immediately online or at (888) 702-8882.
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