Understanding Diversion in California
Diversion can be described as a form of pretrial sentencing in which a defendant facing a criminal charge enters a rehabilitation or treatment program to help remedy the behavior that resulted in the original arrest and, at the same time, avoid jail time. The California pretrial diversion program requires the defendant to complete mental health, drug treatments, and education courses and receive personal or group counseling. On successful completion of the diversion program, the charges may be dropped and/or sealed.
Types of Diversion
In the state of California, there are three types of pretrial diversion programs. These include:
Low-level Misdemeanors Diversion
According to Penal Code Section 1000, eligible defendants apprehended for low-level drug crimes or nonviolent misdemeanors are allowed to have their charges dismissed upon successful completion of a drug treatment program.
In order to be eligible for a misdemeanor diversion or drug diversion program, the defendant must meet all of the following conditions:
- No convictions for any offense involving controlled substances within the last five years
- The current offense does not involve a violent crime or a threat of violence
- There is no evidence of a more serious crime or contemporaneous violation that is ineligible for the misdemeanor diversion program
- No prior felony conviction within the last five years
Mental Health Diversion
Under Penal Code Section 1001.36, defendants with mental health disorders who have been charged with a crime are allowed to seek treatment through a diversion program. Some mental health conditions that qualify include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
The mental health treatment may include therapy sessions, counseling, and drug treatment. Defendants who successfully complete their mental health diversion program can have their charges dismissed and/or sealed.
To be eligible for a mental health diversion program, the defendant must meet the following conditions:
- Diagnosis of one of the mental health conditions mentioned above, with the exception of borderline personality disorder, pedophilia, or antisocial personality disorder
- The mental disorder was crucial to committing the charged offense
- A mental health expert believes that the offender would respond to treatment
- Agreement to receive treatment as a condition of the mental health diversion program
- The court believes that the defendant doesn’t pose any unreasonable risk of danger to public safety
Almost all crimes, including both misdemeanors and felonies, are eligible for a mental health diversion program. However, under Penal Code Section 1001.36 (2), a defendant may not be placed into a diversion program for committing the following crimes:
- Murder or voluntary manslaughter
- Offenses that require a convicted defendant to register as a sex offender, except for indecent exposure
- Commission of rape or sexual penetration in concert with another person
- Assault with intent to commit rape, sodomy, or oral copulation
- Continuous sexual abuse of a child
- Lewd acts involving children under 14 years of age
- Certain terrorist acts
Military or Veterans Diversion
Under Penal Code Section 1001.81, active-duty military personnel deployed to California and veterans in the state who suffer from mental health issues or trauma may be eligible for the military diversion program. This diversion program will allow the defendant to receive treatment as an alternative to jail time.
Active-duty military personnel and veterans can receive treatment for:
- Mental health issues
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Sexual trauma
- Substance abuse
Upon successful completion of the military diversion program, they will eventually have the charges dismissed.
In order to be eligible for military diversion, the defendant must meet the following conditions:
- They are currently on active duty or were a member of the United States military
- They are suffering from any of the mental health conditions listed above
Work with a Skilled Attorney
The outcome of your case can have a significant impact on your freedom, reputation, quality of life, and future opportunities. When facing criminal charges in California, one option to avoid conviction and keep your record clean may be to enter into one of several diversion programs in the state. A highly-skilled California criminal defense attorney can evaluate your situation and offer the detailed guidance you need.
At McCready Law Group, I offer experienced legal guidance and strong representation to clients facing criminal charges. As your legal counsel, I will review the circumstances surrounding your case and determine whether you are eligible for a diversion program. Using my extensive experience, I will help you navigate the California justice system and fight vigorously to defend your rights. Having me on your side can improve your chances of a favorable outcome in your case.