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California's Pretrial Diversion Program: Military Diversion

California's Pretrial Diversion Program: Military Diversion

California's Pretrial Diversion Program: Military Diversion

What Is Pretrial Diversion?

Pretrial diversions are programs in which a judge may offer a treatment program to an eligible defendant facing certain misdemeanor charges, thereby helping them avoid a criminal conviction and keeping them out of jail. Though pretrial diversion programs previously existed at the county level, it wasn't until Assembly Bill No. 3234 was approved by the Governor in September 2020 that they became an option state-wide.

There are three types of pretrial diversion programs in California:

  • Drug diversion
  • Mental health diversion
  • Military diversion

This blog post will provide an overview of the military diversion program and answer some commonly asked questions. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is Military Diversion?

The military diversion program is outlined in California Penal Code § 1001.80. This program is very similar to the state's drug and mental health diversion programs. In fact, the military diversion program covers a wide range of issues that current and former service members may be suffering from, including drug addiction and PTSD.

The military diversion program allows eligible defendants to divert criminal proceedings for up to two years while attending support programs outlined by the courts. While attending their treatment program, the agency responsible for the defendant will file progress updates with the courts every six months (or more as needed).

When placed in a treatment program, the law states that the courts must privilege placing individuals in programs with a documented history of successfully treating veterans and service members with military service-related trauma. Consequently, an individual may be placed in a program operated by the United States Department of Defense or the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Furthermore, treatment programs may also collaborate with the Department of Veterans Affairs to help maximize the benefits and services to the veteran.

Who Is Eligible for Military Diversion?

The military diversion program is available to veterans and current United States military members facing misdemeanor charges in California. Additionally, the service member or veteran must also be suffering from either sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, substance abuse, or mental health problems resulting from their military service to qualify for this diversion program.

What Does a Diversion Mean for My Case?

If you are granted a diversion, you will be allowed to participate in a treatment program as outlined by the courts. Being awarded a military diversion can be life-changing. Satisfactory progress and successful completion of the treatment program are crucial to ensuring that you get the treatment you need and avoiding an expensive trial and possible criminal record.

What Happens If I Don't Complete the Program?

Generally speaking, if the individual going through the diversion program is not performing satisfactorily, or it appears that they are not benefiting from the program, the courts will hold a hearing to determine whether the program should continue or if the criminal proceedings should be reinstituted. In cases where the program is not working, or the individual doesn't complete the program as instructed, the criminal case will proceed, and the individual will once again face criminal charges.

How Do I Get a Military Diversion for My Case?

If you are a veteran or active service member and were arrested for a misdemeanor in California, you may be able to seek a military diversion. Your first step should be to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney, like Attorney Nabiel C. Ahmed. Your lawyer can help represent you in court, and should you be granted a military diversion, they can help you throughout the process and beyond.

To schedule a consultation with the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed, send us a message online.