A first-time offense, whether a misdemeanor or felony, has dire life-long consequences on the offender. However, the Criminal Justice System understands that most first-time offenders suffer from addiction or mental health issues. For that reason, California has a few pre-trial diversion programs that aim to help minor offenders avoid a criminal conviction as long as they can complete a treatment program. Upon successful completion of the program, all criminal charges will be dropped and the criminal record sealed.
California currently offers four main types of programs which we shall discuss in more details below.
1. Informal Prosecutor Health Diversion (PC 1001.36)
Mental health diversion is a pre-trial diversion program offered to offenders of specific misdemeanor offenses. To qualify for a mental health diversion program under PC 1001.36, a mental health professional must confirm that you have a mental health issue that significantly contributed to your crime. Only mental health disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but there are also certain disqualifying mental health issues that don’t qualify for mental health diversion, including antisocial and borderline personality disorder as well as pedophilia.
2. Judicial Diversion (PC 1001.95)
This is the most recent diversion program which was enacted to cover most non-violent misdemeanor offenses. A court diversion program may be set to continue for up to 24 months under certain terms that may include:
- The defendant must complete all conditions ordered by the court
- The defendant must make full restitution
- The defendant must comply with a court-ordered protective order or prohibition
PC 1001.95 now allows judges to offer the option of a diversion program to a defendant even over the objection of a prosecutor.
3. Mental Health Diversion – PC 1001.36
Apart from drug-related crimes, the presence of mental health issues can also qualify an offender for a mental health diversion program. Mental health diversion programs cover a broader range of crimes, including felonies. However, some felonies are still excluded, like murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, sexual abuse of a child, assault with intent to commit a felony, and any crime that requires the offender to register as a sex offender.
PC 1001.36 is also only applicable to certain mental health disorders. Disqualifying disorders are those that are considered dangerous or concerning and include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, or pedophilia. A mental health professional must also ascertain the mental health disorder per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
4. Military Diversion – PC 1001.80
PC 1001.80 is yet another diversion program that is only available to current and former military personnel. Under this program, only misdemeanor offenses are eligible and not felony offenses. The defendant must also show that his/her military service significantly caused one or more of the following conditions:
- Sexual trauma
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Mental health issues
- A traumatic brain injury
The court typically gives the terms of the diversion program and can include taking part in a treatment program or paying restitution to the victim.
Court Initiated Misdemeanor Diversion – PC 1001.95
PC 1001.95 is the most recent diversion program, which took effect on January 1, 2021. PC 1001.95 is a court-initiated diversion program that applies to most non-violent misdemeanors except those which are excluded in this statute. Under PC 1001.95, judges can now offer the option of a diversion program to a defendant even over the objection of a prosecutor. Previously, this decision was left entirely to a prosecutor. Although a judge could deny diversion, they could not offer it over the objection of the prosecution. PC 1001.95 also allows the judge to set the terms of the diversion, including the length of the program. During the program’s period, the defendant may be required to take classes that address the issues that contributed to his/her offense.
What charges are excluded in PC 1001.95?
Crimes excluded by PC 1001.95 include:
- Any offense which requires a defendant to register as a sex offender
- Domestic violence causing bodily injury
5. Drug Deferred Entry of Judgement Diversion -PC 1000
PC 1000 applies is by far the most common diversion program and applies to all misdemeanor drug-related crimes. The drug charges are usually non-violent misdemeanors involving simple possession. Other drug crimes which are eligible under PC 1000 include:
- Simple possession of controlled substance – HSC 11350
- Unlawful possession of marijuana – HSC 11357
- Simple possession of drug paraphernalia – HSC 11364
- Unlawful possession of prescription sedatives – HSC 11375
- Simple possession of meth – HSC 11377
- Forged prescription of narcotics – HSC 11368
To be eligible for a drug diversion program, the defendant must meet the following criteria:
- Must not have any felony conviction within the past five years
- Must not have any prior convictions, which would make them ineligible for diversion within the past five years
- Any current criminal charges must not be for a violent crime
If you or your loved one is currently facing charges for a misdemeanor offense, it may be possible to avoid conviction by entering a diversion program. Not only does a diversion program help individuals avoid criminal penalties, but it also helps them through rehabilitative care. Saros Law APC is one of LA’s top-rated firms that can help you make the best decision. Call our office now at (310) 341-3466 and get an immediate response.