Pretrial Diversion Programs in California
I've been doing criminal defense now for twenty-five years and I've seen this concept of the diversion programs over and over again. And of course, the main ones that are changing it and trying to ward its meaning around are the prosecutors because they don't like diversion programs, because in a true diversion program, the person never pleads guilty to anything.
Basically, the case is continued. They do some sort of a drug program, or domestic violence program or some other corrective measure is imposed against them. They do it and when they come back in six months, a year or whatever the time frame is, the case is just simply dismissed. So, that would be a true diversion because the case is diverted. Nobody pleads guilty to anything.
What Happens in Diversion Programs?
What I'm seeing more now in today's criminal defense arena is that the prosecutors are calling things diversions that aren't diversions. For example, somebody pleads guilty, the case is put over for one year and then after the one year, they can take back their guilty plea, enter a not-guilty plea and the case is dismissed if they don't get in trouble and they do whatever it is the court/prosecutors order them to do, and that is not a diversion program.
That is more of a deferred entry of judgment. That's where instead of you getting convicted on your guilty plea, you're being put in a position where you're not being sentenced; therefore, you don't get any conviction and then you can take the guilty plea back after whatever time frame is agreed upon.
So, that's deferred entry of judgment. That is not diversion.
It's not easy to get diversion in today's criminal defense arena because prosecutors don't really view that as you getting punished for whatever it is that you did. What they're looking at, they want to get a mark on your record.
They want to get you in a position where if you do something wrong again, they've got that mark on your record to say to the judge, look this person did this before and now here they are doing it again. Let's really hammer them with the sentence. So, they don't like diversion programs.
Diversion programs are not easy to get. The one thing that has tipped the scales in favor of somebody getting diversion on a criminal case in Los Angeles is all these propositions that have passed.
Prop 47 and many of the other proposition that are basically saying, look we're not gonna put these people in jail or prison anymore that are just possessing drugs and ruining their own lives. We're going to try to help those people.
We're going to try to educate those people. We're going to try to rehabilitate those people by way of programs and things that they can utilize so they can break their addiction and they can get their life together — get their act together.
We're not just going to warehouse them, have the California penal system pay millions of dollars every year for them to be housed, and then they get out, they have no education, they have no skills. They have no ability to get rid of that vicious drug cycle. They go right back to what they were doing.
Qualifying for a Diversion Program
So, if you're looking for a diversionary deal on your case, obviously you're going to have to have the right scenario. You're going to have to have a scenario where you deserve to get a chance. Maybe it's a drug case. Maybe it's even a domestic violence case.
It could be any type of case if somebody could get diversion. It really just depends on your criminal record and the facts of the case and most importantly, whether your attorney can convince the prosecutor and judge that you are a candidate that should get diversion.
So, if you're looking for a diversionary deal, you need to pick up the phone. Make the call. We can sit down and talk and see if it's really realistic. Sometimes it's not realistic. Sometimes you're trying to get diversion and you have no chance to get it.
The attorney who you're working with has to tell you that and you have to come up with some other avenue to deal with your case, get you out of the criminal justice system as fast possible, protect your rights, your freedom, your reputation and all the things that you hold dear. So, pick up the phone. Make the call. We'll get you out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible.