Diversion is a legal program that can be offered in the State of California. Individuals believed to have committed certain crimes and who meet specific qualifications may be referred into a diversion program in California, regardless of his or her guilt. By entering and successfully completing diversion, an accused offender can avoid punishment for his or her alleged involvement in a crime. Diversion has numerous requirements that must be met before an individual can be released from a specified program, however. Diversion is something a person must take serious to avoid future judgement. Often, a diversion program takes six month to more than a year to complete and involves counseling, treatment, behavior modification, classes, vocational training, community service, and the paying of fines.
Who is Eligible for a Diversion Program?
There are certain offenses and specific offenders who may qualify in California for a program that would result in the dismissal of the case upon meeting specified requirements. This is known as diversion. Diversion programs can go by different names but they all serve the same purpose – to remove a defendant from the channels of prosecution to have him or her meet certain conditions instead. If those conditions are successfully completed, the charges against the defendant typically are dismissed by a judge. The goal of diversion is to rehabilitate the individual, giving them the opportunity to demonstrate responsible behavior now. California rewards those individuals who finish diversion with character by dismissing the charges and allowing them to move on with life without being labeled as a criminal. It is important to understand diversion is not for everyone who allegedly has broken the law in California, though. Typically a diversion program is for a first-time offender and/or someone accused of a drug offense or a domestic offense. The offenses that may qualify for diversion are typically minor and not violent in nature and specifically may include petty theft and personal possession of certain drugs for recreational use.
I believe I am eligible for diversion…what next?
If you are a first-time offender, meaning you have not been in trouble with the law in the past, you may be eligible for diversion in California. Additionally, if you were charged with a non-violent drug offense or domestic offense, diversion also may be a possibility for you. It is crucial to contact a California criminal defense attorney once you have been charged with a crime. Upon contacting legal counsel, notify him or her of your desire to pursue diversion. He or she then will be sure the necessary requirements for diversion are met. Sometimes, the prosecution will offer diversion to defendants who meet the eligibility guidelines. The defense lawyer also may meet with the prosecuting lawyer to suggest diversion for his or her client. Diversion often remains an option and can be achieved up until the time of the trial, though. If a defendant is referred to a diversion program in California, he or she is assigned a probation officer, who aids him or her through the diversion process and decides what diversion requirements should be met before the charges are dropped.