The state of California has dramatically expanded opportunities for misdemeanor diversion with the enactment of Assembly Bill 3234.
Readers should note there are many existing laws offering diversion for certain cases, like drug addiction and mental health, but many crimes are not even eligible for a diversion program, while some defendants are ineligible due to prior arrests or convictions.
Enter Assembly Bill 3234 that permits many people to have their cases dismissed and even erased from their records if they successfully complete a diversion program, including people who are convicted of drunk driving.
However, still, a defendant cannot be offered a diversion program for many types of offenses, such as domestic battery, staking, and any sexual related crimes that requires sex offender registration pursuant to California Penal Code 290 PC.
If a defendant is successful, this misdemeanor diversion is a huge benefit as not only will the case be dismissed completely, but also the underlying arrest will be deemed never to have occurred.
This form of diversion provides an additional benefit over other similar programs in that the defendant is not required to plead guilty in advance.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing a review AB 3243 below to give you a better understanding.
AB 3234 Allows Judicial Discretion for Diversion
AB 3234 gives the judge discretion to impose diversion, except in certain cases, even when the prosecution objects.
Put simply, a judge in the California superior court that is prosecuting a misdemeanor case can offer diversion to the defendant if they determine it's appropriate.
If a defendant decides to accept the offer of diversion, then the judge is allowed to continue (suspend) the case for up to two years.
During this time frame, a defendant is required to follow specific terms and conditions which are reviewed below.
Diversion Program Terms and Conditions
These terms and conditions are established by the judge along with other obligations that are relevant based on the case circumstances the defendant's history. Common conditions include the following:
- drug treatment program,
- alcohol classes,
- community service,
- anger management,
- combination of other conditions set by the judge.
All defendants will be required to pay full restitution to any victim who suffered a loss, and they will also be required to comply with any protective or restraining order that was issued in the case.
However, a defendant's financial inability to pay restitution, however, can't be used as legal grounds to violate a defendant for not following the terms of diversion.
California Crimes Not Eligible for Diversion
Assembly Bill 3234 misdemeanor diversion is not available for defendants who have been charged with the following crimes:
- Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC – domestic battery;
- Penal Code 273.5 PC – corporal injury to spouse;
- Penal Code 646.9 PC – stalking;
- a misdemeanor sex-related offense that subjects a defendant to registration as a sex offender pursuant California Penal Code 290 PC.
Put simply, defendants who have been charged with specific domestic violence offenses and sex crimes are not eligible for the benefits of the new diversion program.
Can AB 3234 Get a Defendant Diversion on a Misdemeanor Charge?
This is a new law that just came into effect in 2021. It's a great potential remedy for a lot of those individuals facing a misdemeanor and not wanting to get a conviction on their record.
There's a list of charges that will allow a judge to allow a person to get this diversion program, such as driving under the influence, drug crimes, criminal threats, elder abuse, and more.
The prosecutor can object, but over the prosecutor's objection, the judge can give a diversion AB 3234 anyway.
If the person gets this, then they're able to do some sort of a program depending on what their issues are and ultimately you:
- avoid a criminal conviction on their record,
- avoid going to jail,
- avoid having to do a jury trial.
So, this is a great remedy in misdemeanor criminal cases. Not everybody's going to get it. Prosecutors are going to vehemently object to it.
That's why it's so crucial to get a defense attorney who can fight for you, who knows what it takes to get these type of results; who knows what it takes to keep your record clean.
If you can get this diversionary program, it really cuts you out of the criminal system to a large degree and allows you a chance to get a resolution that puts you in a very powerful situation, because ultimately, you can get a dismissal. You can make it so nobody can see it on your record.
Initial Strategy Meeting to Review Eligibility
So, if you or a loved one is charged with a misdemeanor in Los Angeles County, I suggest that you pick up the phone. Make the call. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.
We'll talk about your case and what type of defenses you might have and what type of a resolution makes sense for you and your circumstances.
If this AB 3234 applies to you if you're looking at possibly getting a diversionary program so that you can avoid a criminal conviction, jail time and a host of other problems that comes along with an offense. I will do everything possible.
Just because you may be eligible for this program, doesn't necessarily mean the judge has to give it to you. You've got to fight for it. You've got to show the judge that you're the type of person that's worth giving a break to.
Your attorney has to get all the information in about you, your life, your record, your family, and all of the good stuff that relates to you. Once we're able to do that, we really start to put ourselves in a strong position to argue for this offense.
Persuading Judge to Grant Diversion
The great thing about it is, even if the prosecutors don't think it's appropriate, they're trying to cite that you have a prior criminal record. They're trying to cite what you did in the misdemeanor case.
The judge can overrule them, but the judge is only going to overrule them if your attorney is powerful enough to speak on your behalf and convince the judge that you deserve a break and that you're not the type of person that's going to re-offend.
You're going to be successful on this program, and basically, you're going to make the judge proud because judges love it when they give people a break, and the person takes advantage of the break and takes care of business and gets themselves on the right path.
The judges love nothing more than to kick that person out of the criminal justice system, wish them good luck, give them a clean record so they can move on with a happy life.
So, if that's something that you're interested in, you've come to the right place. I've been doing this almost 30 years since 1994 on the defense side, so I know what it takes to get you a successful result and I'll do everything I can to help you.
Hedding Law Firm is located and Los Angeles County and we offer a free case evaluation to review the details of your case and legal options.