There are three types of diversion programs currently allowed in the State of California

  1.  Misdemeanors diversion, including drug diversion
  2. Mental health diversion
  3. Military or veterans diversion

Misdemeanors diversion. Individuals who have been charged with a first-time, low-level misdemeanors can qualify for this diversion program. Some of the common types of crimes that can be diverted include drunk in public, driving on a suspended license and being under the influence of a controlled substance, and public intoxication.  A person will be given  usually 1 year to  complete diversion conditions which can include 24 hours of community service, drug or alcohol treatment, educational or vocational classes, random drug testing, and restitution.

Misdemeanor Diversion

At the beginning of this year, a new law went into effect. This is California’s new misdemeanor diversion law, which gives superior court judges the authority to offer a diversion program to a person charged with a qualifying misdemeanor. This can be done even if the prosecutor objects.

How Does Diversion Work?

A diversion program provides an alternative to a criminal conviction. Instead of the defendant going through a trial, a judge may “divert” the case and order the defendant to complete specific terms, conditions, and programs. Typically, the judge can continue the case – meaning postpone it – for up to 24 months. During that time, you are required to comply with the court’s orders. If you successfully complete diversion, your case will be dismissed.

Successful completion of a diversion program can include:

  • Completing all court requirements such as community service hours.
  • Attending some sort of an education program such as an online , 5 hour alcohol education class.
  • Attend and successfully complete  gun safety course.
  • AA meetings
  • Obey all laws, meaning stay out of trouble, no new arrests.

If you violate any of the terms of their diversion program, the court will hold a hearing and if you did not adhere to program conditions, your case will recommence.

Does the Diversion Program Apply to All Misdemeanors?

A judge may offer the diversion program to defendants charged with a wide range of offenses.

Misdemeanors to which can apply applies include, but are not limited to:

  • Fake ID
  • Petty Theft
  • Minor in Possession
  • Some low level gun charges
  • Some Fish and Game violations
  • Some vehicle code violations, such as driving on a suspended license.

There are several misdemeanor crimes for which a judge may never offer the diversion program.

These include:

  • Violence charges
  • Sex charges
  • Battery
  • Stalking

What Are the Effects of Completing a Diversion Program?

The effects of successfully completing a misdemeanor diversion program are many. You have both immediate and long-term impacts. As far as immediate effects go, you include avoiding a costly, lengthy, and contentious trial.

Long-term, successful completion of a diversion program allows you to avoid having a criminal record. As mentioned earlier, after the defendant meets all court-ordered conditions, the case against them is dismissed. This means that the arrest will not show up on the individual’s criminal record. They can lawfully say that you were not convicted of the crime for which you completed a diversion program. Also, no employment, benefit, or licensing decision may be based on the arrest.

Being free of a criminal record has many social implications. Having an arrest or conviction show up on a background check can make it difficult for a person to find a job or a place to live, making it hard for the individual to become a productive member of society. If you do not have a criminal record, you will not face these hurdles.

It must be noted, though, that even if the individual completed a misdemeanor diversion program, the Department of Justice can still access the arrest information if the individual applies for employment as a peace officer. Also, if they are directly asked during the hiring process about past arrests, you must answer that you have been arrested.

How Can I Be Placed on a Diversion Program?

If you were arrested for a misdemeanor offense and are seeking representation, consider a diversion program. We will file the appropriate motions and typically cover all your court appearances .

Misdemeanor Diversion

Legislation was recently passed which provides for a diversion program for many misdemeanor charges. This new misdemeanor diversion law gives superior court Judges the authority to offer a diversion program to a person charged with a qualifying misdemeanor. This is significant because in the past, diversion could only be approved by the District Attorney’s office, and they often opposed diversion. So, the Judge can order diversion even if the prosecutor handling the case objects.

How Does Diversion Work?

A diversion program provides an alternative to criminal prosecution. Instead of the defendant going through a trial, a judge may “divert” the case and order the defendant to complete specific terms, conditions, and programs. These are typically activities such as attending AA meetings, doing community service and of course staying out of trouble during the term of diversion. Through diversion, the Judge can continue the case, for up to two years. Usually this is a 1 year term. During that time, the defendant is required to comply with all orders. If they successfully complete the diversion program, the case against them will be dismissed.

Successful completion of a diversion program includes:

  • Completing all court-ordered conditions

  • Paying restitution to the victim

  • Complying with protective or stay-away orders

  • Complying with orders prohibiting firearm possession (if applicable)

If the defendant violates any of the terms of their diversion program, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether such violation occurred. If it finds that the defendant did not adhere to program conditions, their case will recommence.

Before the new law took effect, each county determined whether an alleged misdemeanor offender was offered a diversion program. allows this to happen statewide.

Does the Diversion Program Apply to All Misdemeanors?

A judge may offer the diversion program to defendants charged with a wide range of offenses.

Misdemeanors to which diversion applies include, but are not limited to:

  • Assault

  • Carrying a concealed firearm

  • Alcohol related offenses.

  • Petty theft charges

Although this new legislation covers several misdemeanor crimes, there are still some for which a judge may never offer the diversion program.

These include:

  • Offenses requiring sex offender registration

  • Injury to a spouse or dating partner

  • Battery

What Are the Effects of Completing a Diversion Program?

The effects of successfully completing a misdemeanor diversion program are many. They have both immediate and long-term impacts. As far as immediate effects go, they include avoiding a costly, lengthy, and contentious trial.

Long-term, successful completion of a diversion program allows the defendant to avoid having a criminal record. As mentioned earlier, after the defendant meets all court-ordered conditions, the case against them is dismissed. This means that the arrest will not show up as a conviction on the individual’s criminal record. They can lawfully say that they have never been convicted of the crime for which they were placed in the diversion program. Also, no employment, benefit, or licensing decision may be solely based on the arrest.

Being free of a criminal record has many positive implications. Having an arrest or conviction show up on a background check can make it difficult for a person to find a job or a place to live, making it hard for the individual to become a productive member of society. If the individual does not have a criminal record, they will not face these hurdles.

It must be noted, though, that even if the individual completed a misdemeanor diversion program, the Department of Justice can still access the arrest information if the individual applies for employment as a peace officer. Also, if one is directly asked during the hiring process about past arrests, one must answer that they have been arrested, but the case was dismissed.

This new law is an excellent option for many people looking at a criminal conviction. Our firm would write up a motion and argue your case to request diversion. Feel free to call us for further information .