California has created pretrial diversion programs for eligible defendants as a way to allow them to avoid jail time in exchange for completing treatment and education courses. Once the defendant successfully completes the program, the case is sealed and it is as though the incident never happened.
Pretrial diversion programs have many benefits for defendants facing serious charges. The defendant is rehabilitated instead of punished, and their job and reputation remain intact. Unfortunately, not everyone qualifies for pretrial diversion. If you have been charged with a crime, contact a Ventura criminal defense lawyer who can advise you of your options.
People facing charges often know a bit about pretrial diversion programs, but they do not realize there is more than one type in California. Within the state, there are three different types of programs available and they are as follows:
- Drug pretrial diversion programs for defendants accused of committing certain drug offenses
- Mental health diversion programs when a defendant’s mental health problems played a significant role in the crime
- Military and veteran diversion programs when military service caused a defendant to suffer from certain conditions
- Of the above two, drug pretrial diversion programs and mental health diversion programs are the most common.
- Violent crimes are not always eligible for pretrial diversion so it is important to speak to a lawyer.
Drug charges a court may divert are typically nonviolent misdemeanors, particularly when a defendant does not have a criminal history. Mental health treatment programs available through pretrial diversion though, are often made available for those charged with felonies as well as misdemeanors. The court is prohibited from granting diversion for certain crimes, including murder, rape, and assault with intent to commit a felony.
While the mental health pretrial diversion program may be available even when a person is accused of felony charges, there are still some important eligibility requirements to consider. These are as follows:
- A mental health professional must testify that the defendant’s mental health condition played a significant role in the crime, and the defendant would benefit from treatment.
- A mental health professional must make their diagnosis based in accordance with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
- Certain diagnoses disqualify a defendant from diversion and they include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and pedophilia.
- Certain diagnoses qualify a defendant for diversion and they include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizoaffective disorder.
- The defendant cannot be facing charges that are ineligible for diversion, including continuous sexual abuse of a child, or any offense that requires sex offender registration.
If you or a loved one is facing charges and you want to learn more about pretrial diversion programs in California, our criminal defense lawyers can help with your case.
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Pretrial diversion programs can provide a lot of relief for defendants, including the fact that they will not have a criminal record after completing the treatment and education courses. Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible. At Strongest Defense, our Ventura criminal defense lawyers can advise on your case and whether a treatment program is available, and give you the best chance of qualifying. Call us today to speak to one of our experienced attorneys.