What is a Diversion Program?

A conviction for a misdemeanor or felony offense in California can lead to jail or prison time, fines, and other serious penalties—even if it’s your first time facing the criminal justice system. Fortunately, courts throughout California understand that most first-time offenders are not seasoned criminals.

To reduce incarcerations throughout the state, pretrial diversion programs are available to help defendants avoid getting convicted, spending time behind bars, and obtaining a permanent criminal record. To qualify for such programs, the crime you are charged with is your first offense, which means there are no prior convictions on your record.

The following are the most common pretrial diversion programs available in California:

  • Drug offender diversion program – If you have been charged with low-level drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, or being under the influence of a controlled substance, you may be eligible for pretrial diversion under PC 1000.
  • Mental health diversion program – If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony and had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, you could enroll in the mental health diversion program if you are not a risk to public safety.
  • Military diversion program – If you have previously served in the U.S. military and have PTSD, substance abuse issues, or any other mental health disorder due to your service, you could be eligible for the military diversion program if you were charged with a misdemeanor.
  • Juvenile diversion program – If your child has been charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense, he/she could qualify for the juvenile diversion program. This diversion program doesn’t apply to DUI, sex crimes, or violent crimes.

While the conditions for each program varies, they often entail check-ins with a probation officer, educational courses, rehabilitation, counseling, and drug testing. When a defendant completes the program, their charges will be dismissed and their criminal record will remain clean—as if the arrest or charged never occurred in the first place.

For more information about California diversion programs, contact the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, at (707) 418-5352 for a free case review.

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