Review of California Pretrial Diversion Programs
California pretrial diversion programs give eligible defendants a chance to avoid jail time if they successfully complete treatment and education courses.
Pretrial diversion can be described as a court putting proceedings on hold while a defendant who was arrested and charged with a crime completes court ordered courses.
If the defendant is successful, then the court will dismiss and seal their criminal case as if it never occurred. Pretrial diversion means no time in jail or any record of a conviction.
Defendants who were charged with a crime is able to receive treatment and complete some needed courses.
In other words, the pretrial diversion programs in California are an excellent opportunity for a defendant. In many criminal cases, it's a defendant's best solution to resolve their case.
The primary types of California diversion programs are:
- Penal Code 1000 PC - drug diversion;
- Penal Code 100.36 PC - mental health diversion;
- Penal Code 1001.81 PC - military diversion.
For most defendants, the most difficult part is qualifying for pretrial diversion and then completing successfully completing the program within the required timeframe.
Pretrial diversion can be complicated. This means you will need a seasoned lawyer who is familiar with the court process, judges, and prosecutors.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing a detailed review below.
Drug Diversion Program - Penal Code 1000
The most common form of diversion in California is related to drug crimes and defined under Penal Code 1000 PC.
If a judge grants a defendant PC 1000 drug diversion, the defendant will be ordered to:
- complete a drug or alcohol program;
- specific terms and conditions of probation, and
- victim restitution payment.
In many drug charges, the judge can “divert” non-violent misdemeanor crimes such as simple drug possession for personal use, as long as the defendant has no recent felony drug crime convictions.
This means that a drug diversion program is normally not available for a defendant facing serious felony charges, such as the use of threats or violence in a drug smuggling case.
What California Drug Crimes Are Eligible for Diversion?
The drug charges in the state of California that qualify for a diversion program include the following:
- Health and Safety Code 11350 HS – simple possession of drugs,
- Health and Safety Code 11358 HS – cultivation of marijuana,
- Health and Safety Code 11364 HS – possessing drug paraphernalia,
- Health and Safety Code 11368 HS – forging a prescription for narcotics,
- Health and Safety Code 11377 HS – possessing methamphetamine,
- Health and Safety Code 11550 HS – under the influence of drugs.
Eligibility requirements for drug diversion
There are certain requirements a defendant must meet before they are eligible for PC 1000 drug diversion, including the following:
- defendant can't have any felony convictions within the past 5 years; or
- a conviction for certain types of crimes making them ineligible; and
- the pending criminal charges do not involve violence or threats.
Mental Health Diversion - Penal Code 1001.36 PC
California Penal Code 100.36 describes mental health diversions which can be granted by the judge for many different offenses, including felonies.
There are, however, certain crimes that are not eligible for mental health diversion, including PC 187 murder, PC 192(a) voluntary manslaughter, PC 261 rape, and PC 288.5 continuous sexual abuse of a child.
Further, mental health diversion is not available for a defendant if their offense requires them to register as a sex offender and certain types of violent crimes.
A mental health professional will need to make a diagnosis pursuant to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
They will also need to state that the disorder played a significant role in the crime and that treatment will most likely help the defendant.
There are certain types of diagnosis that will make a defendant ineligible for mental health diversion, including:
- antisocial and borderline personality disorder, and
The types of qualifying diagnoses from a mental health professional that will make a defendant eligible for diversion include:
- bipolar disorder;
- post-traumatic stress disorder.
Before the court will grant mental health diversion program, a defendant must meet certain conditions which primarily include an opinion from an expert they would respond to treatment.
Military and Veteran Diversion under Penal Code 1001.80 PC
Penal Code 1001.80 describes military and veteran diversion that allows the court to divert only misdemeanor charges, such as driving under the influence.
Both current and former members of the military are eligible for this type of diversion.
However, in order to qualify, a defendant will have to prove their military service caused them to suffer one or more of the following conditions:
- traumatic brain injury,
- mental health issues,
- drug or alcohol abuse,
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Terms and conditions of military diversion
The court will assign the terms of diversion which normally include a treatment program to address any substance abuse or mental health problems.
The court will also normally order a defendant to follow terms of probation in an effort to avoid further prohibited conduct once they complete diversion.
If a defendant decides to accept military diversion, their right to a speedy trial will be forfeited because the program takes time to complete.
Criminal Lawyers for California Diversion Programs
In order for a defendant to successfully complete diversion, they will have to complete several steps, such as getting a diagnosis and preparing documentation.
Each of these steps will require the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Other crucial steps for a diversion program include negotiating for the terms of diversion and the actual hearing before the judge.
Cron, Israels & Stark is a top-rated criminal defense law firm that can help you make the best decision related to a diversion program.
Our office is located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. We serve clients throughout all Southern California courtrooms.
Pretrial diversion could be your best option, but we need to closely review all the details in order to plan a strategy moving forward.
We offer a free case evaluation by calling our office at (424) 372-3112, or you can fill out our contact form.