In recognition of those who have served, or who are on active duty, in the United States Armed Forces, there is a unique diversion program available (Penal Code section 1011.80). The program is designed for those service members who qualify for the program, and have been charged with a misdemeanor offense only (with potential exceptions). In sum, successful completion of the pre-trial diversion program by the defendant will result in a dismissal of his/her case!
To qualify for the program, the defendant must have committed a misdemeanor offense, while suffering from some disability, that was a result of their prior military service or while serving on active duty. The disabilities include;
- post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”)
- military sexual trauma (rape, sexual assault, etc)
- traumatic brain injury
- substance abuse
- mental health issues
To determine if the defendant qualifies for military diversion, a court hearing will be held where a well-prepared and experienced attorney will provide the basis upon which the client should be admitted into the program. The basis should be meticulously presented and include a written report prepared by a specialist with the United States Veteran’s Administration or some related and competent source. The report must detail the client’s military service record and the injury or disability that the client suffers from, along with any recommended course of treatment.
If the court is satisfied that the defendant is eligible and suitable for pre-trial diversion, then with the defendant’s consent, of course, he/she will begin appropriate treatment, subject to regular progress reports from the treatment provider. The treatment and pre-trial diversion period can last no longer than two years in duration. If the defendant successfully completes treatment and remains crime-free, the case will be dismissed and he/she can truthfully state, in response to any question concerning prior criminal history, that he/she was never arrested or previously diverted! If the client is terminated from pre-trial diversion for whatever reason (not benefitting from treatment, abandons the treatment, commits a new offense, etc), criminal proceedings will be reinstated and the client will have to pursue other options.