July 15, 2022 By Wallin & Klarich

What Are Pretrial Diversion Programs? 

In the past several years, California has made changes to its criminal justice system that emphasize rehabilitating criminal offenders rather than imprisoning them. A pretrial diversion is an alternative to criminal prosecution and incarceration, allowing first-time, low-level offenders a chance to participate in a rehabilitation program and subsequently have their charges dismissed. Two common pretrial diversion programs are drug diversion, which offers non-violent drug offenders addiction treatment and education, and mental health diversion, which allows some defendants with mental health issues to receive care and treatment rather than jail time. 

Your case will continue while you are in the program, so you must agree to waive your right to a speedy trial. The program usually lasts for a period of up to two years and will have rules and restrictions set by the judge. The terms for diversion typically include treatment for drug or alcohol use, therapy, or attendance at meetings. If you caused property damage, you may also be required to pay restitution to the victim. Without fulfilling the conditions, the prosecutor can reinstate the charges based on your prior admission of guilt. 

Once you have completed the diversion program successfully, the court will dismiss the charges against you. The arrest will be sealed, and the arrest and prosecution will be treated as if they never happened. Another benefit of diversion is that your arrest cannot be used to deny you employment, benefits, licenses, or certificates in most cases. If you have been accused of a crime, continue reading to see if you are eligible for pretrial diversion. 

Am I Eligible for Pretrial Diversion in Riverside? 

Under California law, most misdemeanors are eligible for diversion, but this is at the discretion of the judge assigned to your case. Even for first-time offenders, the judge will still consider the specific circumstances of your case before deciding whether diversion is appropriate for you. Each judge may handle cases differently, with some being more strict about crimes involving drugs or alcohol. 

California Penal Code Section 1000 details the requirements that one must meet in order to qualify for drug diversion: 

  • Within five years prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense, the defendant has not been convicted for any offense involving controlled substances other than those listed in PC Section 1000. In general, this section covers charges for simple possession of drugs. 
  • The offense charged did not involve violence or threatened violence. 
  • There is no evidence of a contemporaneous violation relating to narcotics or restricted dangerous drugs. 
  • The defendant has no prior felony conviction within five years prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense. 

Similarly, California Penal Code Section 1001.36 outlines the following conditions that must be met in order to qualify for mental health diversion: 

  • The defendant must suffer from a mental disorder including, but not limited to, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder, but excluding antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and pedophilia 
  • The defendant’s mental disorder was a significant factor in the commission of the charged offense 
  • In the opinion of a qualified mental health expert, the defendant’s mental disorder would respond to mental health treatment 
  • The defendant must consent to diversion and waive his right to a speedy trial 
  • The defendant must agree to comply with treatment as a condition of diversion 
  • The court is satisfied that the defendant will not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety 

Although diversion is usually an option for first-time low-level offenses, diversion may not be available for a second or subsequent crime. As such, it is important to complete your diversion program the first time around and avoid making the same mistake. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

Are you eligible for drug or mental health diversion? For more information or help with your case, contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients in a wide range of cases, many who have been granted pretrial diversion. We have the skills and resources to secure the best outcome for you.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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