Getting arrested for the first time in your life is a confusing, stressful, and frightening experience. A conviction can not only lead to serious penalties like jail or prison time and fines, but it also results in a permanent criminal record that can haunt you for the rest of your life and make getting a job, finding housing, or applying for college extremely difficult.
However, judges and prosecutors in California understand that first-time offenders are not seasoned criminals and the best way to deter them from becoming repeat offenders is by providing counseling and rehabilitative services, rather than punishment. Such services are available at pretrial diversion programs.
State pretrial diversion programs enable eligible defendants to avoid incarceration by completing education courses and treatment. If you successfully complete the program, all the charges against you will be dismissed and your criminal record will be sealed. Failure to complete the program means your criminal case will resume.
The following are the three types of pretrial diversion programs available in California:
- Misdemeanor/drug diversion – California Penal Code 1000 allows defendants facing certain nonviolent misdemeanors to enter a diversion program, instead of going through the criminal justice system. Common types of offenses that can be diverted under PC 1000 include simple drug possession, being under the influence or using a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession or use of a forged prescription to obtain a controlled substance, and public intoxication. Defendants have between 12 and 18 months to complete treatment, which includes probation, alcohol or drug treatment, random drug testing, education or vocation courses, and victim restitution.
- Mental health diversion – California Penal Code 1001.36 lets defendants who have mental health disorders receive treatment if they are facing criminal charges—no matter if they are misdemeanors or felonies. Yet, those charged with murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, child sex crimes, and assault to commit a sex crime are not eligible to enter the program. The mental health treatment plan can take up to two years to complete and it generally consists of drug treatment, therapy sessions, and counseling.
- Military diversion – California Penal Code 1001.80 allows veterans and active-duty service members suffering from trauma and other mental health issues (e.g. PTSD, substance abuse, military sexual trauma, or TBI) and facing misdemeanor crimes (e.g. DUI, drug possession, and other misdemeanors) can enter the military diversion program. The treatment plan—which lasts up to 24 months—includes therapy sessions, counseling, routine progress reports, and random drug and alcohol testing.
If you have been arrested in Ventura, contact Wilfert Law P.C. today at (805) 994-0560 to schedule a free consultation with our legal team to discuss your legal options.