California has recently expanded pretrial diversion programs that provide alternatives to criminal prosecution for certain misdemeanor offenses. These programs allow eligible defendants to avoid formal criminal charges if they successfully meet court-ordered requirements like counseling, community service, or probation within a set diversion period.
What Misdemeanors Qualify for Diversion?
California law gives judges the discretion to offer misdemeanor pretrial diversion for offenses like:
- Nonviolent misdemeanors
- Petty theft
- Minor vandalism or graffiti
- Disturbing the peace
- Public intoxication
- Simple assault or battery
- Low-level drug possession offenses
Defendants typically cannot have lengthy criminal histories to qualify for misdemeanor diversion. The court determines eligibility based on factors like criminal background, likelihood to benefit from rehabilitative services, and more. Veterans may receive special consideration.
Meeting the Terms of Diversion
If offered diversion, defendants can choose to accept or reject the terms. Typical requirements may involve:
- Counseling or treatment programs
- Community service hours
- Restitution to victims
- Probation without formal conviction
By successfully finishing the mandated terms within the diversion period, defendants can earn a dismissal of the misdemeanor criminal charges. Some diversion programs last 6-12 months. Counseling helps address underlying factors like substance abuse that may contribute to criminal behaviors.
Diversion Program Eligibility
The following individuals are eligible for diversion:
- Defendants who complete the program successfully
- Current or former members of the U.S. military suffering from PTSD, TBI, substance abuse, sexual trauma, or mental health issues
- Defendants charged with simple assault, simple battery, petty theft, vandalism, possession of drug paraphernalia, public intoxication, disturbing the peace, possession of a controlled substance, trespass, and more.
For qualifying misdemeanor offenses, meeting diversion requirements can be a second chance at avoiding criminal convictions. With each case, there is discretion meaning a judge in the superior court may offer diversion to a defendant or the criminal court has discretion as to whether it will allow the defendant to enter a diversion program.
Contact The Law Office of Elliott Kanter Today
If you or a loved one are facing misdemeanor criminal charges in California, you now have more options besides traditional prosecution thanks to newly expanded pretrial diversion programs. Contact The Law Office of Elliott Kanter Today to schedule a consultation.