Diversion Programs - Avoid Trial and ConvictionIn the State of California, diversion programs exist especially for young offenders and often are viewed as beneficial to juveniles who have committed minor crimes. Legally speaking, a diversion program attempts to channel out youthful offenders from the juvenile justice system. It is believed that funneling juveniles out of the justice system will keep them from being labeled as “criminal offenders” for doing petty acts. Additionally, these programs help the juvenile courts and detention facilities stay focused on those young people who have committed the most serious offenses.

How does a diversion program work?

A young defendant typically does not have to plead “guilty.” However, some programs do require a “guilty” plea. If a diversion program is determined to be beneficial for the defendant, the young person often is required to go through counseling and must meet additional requirements to be free from all criminal charges. Defendants’ cases are dismissed and they are erased from the criminal justice system once they have successfully completed a juvenile diversion program in California. A program typically lasts from six months to a year and sometimes longer. It is important to note, the juveniles who are offered the program typically must pay a court fee and treatment costs. A typical program for a juvenile involves counseling, behavioral classes, group therapy, job training, community service, restitution to a victim, and the paying of fines. If the defendant does not complete the diversion program, the case can be returned to court. The juvenile may then face a sentence.

Who Qualifies For A Diversion Program?
In California, a juvenile may qualify to take part in a program if he or she allegedly committed an offense deemed “minor.” A minor offense is a non-violent crime, typically. A young person charged with petty theft often receives diversion, for example. Sometimes, a minor charged with possession of drugs or charged with a driving offense also may receive it. Primarily, a diversion program is a for a first-time, juvenile offender.

The Goal Of Diversion
Certain types of offenses and offenders may qualify for programs that result in the dismissal of the case against the defendant upon completion of specified conditions, even for adults. These programs for adults also remove the defendant from prosecution so that the defendant may complete certain conditions. Just like in a juvenile program, once an adult finishes the requirements, he or she may have the charges dismissed – avoiding a trial and conviction. Be it a program for young people or adults, the goal often is to give the defendant time to rehabilitate themselves. The program also gives the defendant the opportunity to demonstrate responsible behavior. The state rewards the successful completion of the requirements.

Contact Our Office
Have you or your loved one been charged with a “minor” offense in California? Is the offender a juvenile? No matter a person’s age, he or she may benefit from a diversion program, specifically if this is first-time offense, or a drug or domestic offense. Contact The Law of Peter Blair for additional information concerning diversion in California.