Justia Lawyer Rating
American Board of Trial Advocates
The State Bar of California
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Los Angeles County Bar Association
AV Preeminent
Super Lawyers

Misdemeanor Diversion Programs in California

Misdemeanor Diversion Programs; Los Angeles Attorney Provides a Detailed Overview.

A diversion program is an alternative to a criminal prosecution. On January 1, 2021, Assembly Bill 3234 went into effect and was codified in Penal Code §§1001.95-1001.97. The Court Initiated Misdemeanor Diversion gives certain non-violent offenders a second chance and a clean slate.

AB 3234 gives judges the power to grant a diversion to a defendant in a misdemeanor case and to postpone the case for up to 24 months, even if the prosecuting attorney objects. The decision to grant a diversion is entirely within the discretion of the judge. In considering whether to grant judicial diversion, judges would take into account defendant’s history, character, background, and the specific facts of the case.

A defendant would be deemed to have successfully completed the judicial diversion program upon:

  • Completion of all court-ordered terms, conditions, and programs, which can include community services, treatment programs, anger management, or domestic violence classes among others;
  • Complying with any court-ordered protective or stay-away orders, or orders prohibiting firearm possession; and
  • The defendant making full restitution to the victim. However, the law specifically states that a defendant’s inability to pay restitution due to indigence cannot be grounds for denial of diversion or a finding of failure to comply with the terms of the diversion.

Upon successful completion of a diversion program, the court is obligated to dismiss the case against the defendant and the arrest upon which the diversion was ordered will be deemed to have never occurred.

The judicial diversion program covers a wide range of misdemeanor criminal offences, including:

  • Simple assault and simple battery;
  • Petty theft;
  • Vandalism;
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance;
  • Public intoxication;
  • Disturbing the peace; and
  • Trespass among others.

There are certain offenses that do not qualify for diversion under AB 3234, including:

  • Registrable sex offenses;
  • Domestic violence offenses;
  • Stalking offenses; and
  • DUI . While the new law is silent on DUI misdemeanors, DUI crimes are nevertheless specifically excluded from any diversion-type programs pursuant to other laws.

In addition, there are three other pretrial diversion programs available in California:

  • PC §1000 – The California Drug Diversion Program allows certain individuals who have committed nonviolent drug-related misdemeanors to have their cases diverted and complete a court-prescribed treatment.
  • PC §1001.36 – The California Mental Health Diversion Program allows people who have been charged with certain crimes, but have a mental health disorder, to have their cases diverted, and upon completion of a court-approved treatment plan, to have their cases dismissed and sealed.
  • PC §1001.80 – The California Military Diversion Program allows current and past service members to qualify for diversion, if they suffer from PTSD, sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, or mental health problems.

A criminal record can and does have a long-term effect on an individual’s life, and a criminal conviction can lead to very harsh consequences including the retaining of or obtaining employment, a professional license, or certain benefits, and for non-citizens, it can have a devastating impact on their immigration status. The various diversion programs in California give individuals a chance to have their cases dismissed and to avoid all the negative consequences of an arrest or conviction.

If you or a loved one has been arrested and would like to know more about these programs or any other matter, our highly skilled and reliable attorneys are here to help and answer any questions you might have. The criminal defense attorneys at the Justice Firm have decades of experience representing individuals in all misdemeanor and felony cases and you can contact them today for a case evaluation locally at (310) 914-2444 or at our Toll-Free number at (866) 695-6714, or click here.

Client Reviews
I moved to another state and missed court. They issued a warrant. I called the Justice Firm and spoke to Joe Virgilio and he was very helpful. The they were able to get the warrant removed and fixed it so I got probation and could go back to work. Neal R.
My mom called the Justice Firm. I had a public defender who was pushing me to take a bad deal. My new attorney Mr Browning was able to get my case dismissed. They also gave me a number for a bondsman who gave a great price so I could get out and get back to work. Carlos G.
My son had the lawyers at the Justice Firm represent him. They were really good. Mr. Hunt always calls me back to answer my questions and let me know what is going on. We have referred several people to them over he last few years and they all thank me for it. They work with the district attorneys to get good results. Rick Q.