California offers a number of pretrial diversion programs which allow the court to dismiss criminal charges against certain defendants upon completion of a program. The goal of pretrial diversion programs is to help those charged with misdemeanor or non-serious, non-violent felonies avoid a criminal record and address the underlying issues which may have led to the offense.
Drug Diversion (PC 1000)
California’s PC 1000 program is a drug diversion program covering a number of Health and Safety Code offenses and violation of 23222 of the Vehicle Code. In order to be eligible for the program, the defendant must have committed an offense listed under Penal Code 1000 (a) and must not have:
- Had any convictions related to controlled substances outside of those listed within the past five years
- Been an offense that Involved violence or threatened violence
- Evidence of a “contemporaneous violation relating to narcotics or restricted dangerous drugs” other than those listed
- Had any prior felony convictions within the past five years
PC 1000 requires successful completion of a drug treatment program. The court will enter a deferred entry of judgment and will dismiss the charges upon successful completion.
Mental Health Diversion (PC 1001.36)
Penal Code 1001.36 allows for defendants who suffer from a mental health disorder eligibility for pretrial diversion. To qualify, the defense must show through a recent diagnosis by a qualified mental health expert and other evidence that the defendant has a mental health disorder identified in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The court must be satisfied that the “mental disorder was a significant factor in the commission of the charged offense.” An eligible defendant must not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety and must complete mental health treatment as a condition of the program.
Military and Veterans Diversion (PC 1001.80)
For previous or current members of the United States military accused of a misdemeanor offense, the courts offer a diversion program under Penal Code 1001.80. The defendant must show that they are suffering from one of the following as a result of their military service:
- Sexual trauma
- Traumatic brain injury
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Substance abuse, or
- Mental health disorder
The court will require the defendant to complete a federal or community-based treatment program based on the circumstances of the case.
Primary Caregiver Diversion (PC 1001.83)
The most recent addition to California’s pretrial diversion programs was signed into law in 2019 allowing diversion for primary caregivers of minor children. Codified into law under Penal Code 1001.83, primary caregivers of minor children who are charged with a misdemeanor or non-serious, non-violent felony and not charged with a crime against the child they are the primary caregiver, may be eligible for relief. A successful candidate must participate in classes deemed appropriate by the court including but not limited to those related to parenting, anger management, drug and alcohol treatment, educational and vocational services and assistance with affordable and safe housing.