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California's Pretrial Diversion Program

There is no doubt that the effects of a criminal conviction can be devastating. Often, a conviction includes hefty fines, incarceration, probation or parole, and of course a black mark on one’s criminal record that remains there indefinitely.

A criminal record has consequences: it can ruin a person’s career, affect their ability to find housing, and it can even affect family law matters, such as their ability to gain child custody in a paternity action or divorce case.

Considering the short and long-term consequences of a conviction, many criminal defendants seek to participate in the Conviction Alternatives Program (CAP), which includes Pre-Plea Diversion, also known as “Pretrial Diversion,” Post-Plea Diversion, and Deferred Sentencing. For the purposes of this post, we are going to take a closer look at Pre-Plea Diversion, or Pretrial Diversion.

Pretrial Diversion/Pre-Plea Diversion Program

Sometimes, before a criminal defendant pleads guilty, the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) invites the qualifying individual to participate in the Pretrial Diversion Program, which may also involve the Diversion/Deferred Sentencing Court.

Where appropriate, the USAO may offer Pretrial Diversion while negotiating a plea, or the defendant’s criminal defense attorney may refer their client to the USAO in hopes that the client will be accepted.

In order to participate in Pretrial Diversion, the defendant does not have to plead guilty, but if a defendant participates in the program, he or she must be agreeable to a Speedy Trial Act exclusion. If accepted into the program, the defendant will be supervised by the Pretrial Services Office (PSO) for six months to one year.

Once the defendant successfully completes the Pretrial Diversion Program, the USAO will follow the conditions set forth in the Pretrial Diversion Agreement, which usually means the defendant’s criminal charges are dismissed.

If you have questions about Pretrial Diversion in Oakland, contact the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed for a free criminal defense consultation!

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