If you or a loved one has been arrested for a misdemeanor offense in California and a not-guilty verdict would be difficult to obtain in court, it is still possible to avoid conviction and a criminal record by entering a pre-trial diversion program. These programs consist of treatment, education courses, and other conditions, and completion will result in dismissed charges and a sealed criminal record.
The following are some of the most common pre-trial diversion programs for misdemeanors in California:
- Low-level misdemeanor diversion (PC 1000) – For individuals charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor, this program consists of probation, alcohol/drug treatment, additional classes, and victim restitution. Common examples of nonviolent misdemeanors include public intoxication, drug possession, and any other misdemeanor that doesn’t involve violence.
- Mental health diversion (PC 1001.36) – For individuals who are diagnosed with a mental health disorder and charged with a crime, this program lasts up to two years and consists of drug treatment, therapy sessions, and counseling. Common crimes that are ineligible for mental health diversion include murder, voluntary manslaughter, sex crimes, and acts of terrorism.
- Military diversion (1001.80 PC) – For active-duty service members and veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI, substance abuse, sexual trauma, and any other mental health conditions, this program involves mental health treatment services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Common misdemeanors eligible include DUI, drug possession, as well as misdemeanor assault and battery.
Failure to successfully complete any of these diversion programs means the case will resume through the criminal justice system. Not only does pre-trial diversion help individuals avoid serious criminal penalties, but it also provides them with the treatment and rehabilitation necessary to treat their health conditions.