What is a Pre-Trial Diversion Program in California?

December 21, 2022 by Anastasiia Ponomarova in California  Criminal Defense  
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What is a Pre-trial Diversion Program?

It is possible to escape conviction and a criminal record after an arrest for a misdemeanor in California by enrolling in a pre-trial diversion program, even if a not-guilty finding would be difficult to win in court. Pre-trial diversions are programs through which a jury may offer a treatment program to a defendant facing certain misdemeanor charges. This helps the defendant avoid a criminal conviction and stay out of jail. If you complete the required therapy, education, and other requirements of these programs, your allegations will be dropped, and your record sealed.

Most Common Forms of Diversion in California

Drug diversion under PC 1000

PC 1000 in California allows the diversion of certain drug-related offenses that do not include violence. Once the offender finishes drug treatment and any other conditions set by the court, the charges may be dropped. The court will appoint a treatment program if the defendant elects diversion. To avoid losing their freedom while awaiting trial, defendants must give up their right to a speedy hearing. After then, the defendants will have a certain amount of time to carry out the treatments on the list, which may include:

  • Alcohol addiction rehabilitation.
  • Drug rehabilitation.
  • Alternative education.
  • Restitution to victims.
  • Probation.

The case will be rescheduled if the defendant does not complete the diversionary program. Failure to complete a diversion program will no longer result in the immediate implementation of a sentence. Before 2018, a defendant who wanted to take advantage of diversion had to enter a guilty plea. This is not the case anymore.

Mental health diversion is covered by PC 100.36

This program offers mental health therapy to those arrested for misdemeanors or felonies that do not include violence or sexual misconduct. This program may last as long as two years and include in-patient or out-patient care. Treatment for substance abuse, as well as therapy and counseling, are often ordered by the court. There are, however, requirements that must be completed before one may be considered qualified. This is a list of the criteria:

  • The accused has a mental illness, but it is not a borderline, antisocial, or pedophilic personality disorder.
  • The defendant’s mental illness must have contributed substantially to the commission of the offense for which they are being prosecuted.
  • The defendant must have a mental health problem for which a certified mental health specialist believes treatment would be beneficial.
  • The defendant agrees to participate in the mental health diversion program and waives their right to a trial within a reasonable time frame. To participate in a diversion program, offenders must waive their right to a timely trial, which the Sixth Amendment provides.
  • The accused pledges to continue following all of the program’s guidelines.
  • The court rules that the accused does not present “an unreasonable danger” to society. Judges will often consider the insights of medical experts, lawyers, medical records, and witness testimony when reaching this determination.

Military diversion is covered by PC 1001.81

The California drug and mental health diversion programs are similar to this one in many ways. Drug addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder are only two of the many problems the military diversion program addresses. An offender who meets the requirements of the military diversion program may defer criminal proceedings for up to two years while participating in court-mandated treatment and rehabilitation services. Every six months, while the defendant is in treatment, the agency in charge will notify the courts of their progress (or more as needed).

Courts must prefer treatment facilities with a track record of effectively treating veterans and service members suffering from trauma due to military service. That’s why someone can end up in a Department of Defense or VA program. Treatment centers may also work with the VA to ensure their patients get the full range of benefits and services to which they are entitled.

Suppose you are a veteran or active-duty service member of the United States military and face misdemeanor charges in California. In that case, you may be eligible for the military diversion program. To qualify for this diversion program, the service member or veteran must be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), drug misuse, or mental health issues directly related to their time in the armed forces.

Some Ways a Defendant Might Fail Treatment

  • The accused is convicted of another felony or misdemeanor that shows a violent tendency.
  • The defendant commits a crime that makes them unsuitable for diversion.
  • A qualified mental health expert reports to the court that the defendant’s treatment plan performance is unsatisfactory or they are gravely disabled.

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