Having violations on your legal record can inhibit your ability to find employment, obtain custody of children or receive certain government benefits. To help alleviate first offenders from the problems which can arise with having a misdemeanor stain their records, California offers diversion programs for people who have been charged with minor offenses related to traffic violations, drug and alcohol offenses, or other misdemeanors. Furthermore, California has established laws pertaining to the state's diversion programs.
First offenders who have been arrested and charged for misdemeanors in California can qualify for the pretrial diversion program, which usually consists of educational courses and awareness activities that address the particular offense. According to chapter 2.7 of the California penal code, section 1001.1., a person whose offense qualifies for the diversion program can enter the program before or during the trial process to postpone the prosecution of an offense filed as a misdemeanor. If the offender successfully completes the diversion program, the charges will be dismissed and the violation will be permanantly removed from his legal record as though the arrest never ocurred.
Entering a diversion program in California effectively suspends all aspects of the trial, including bail requirements. Thus, section 1001.6 states that when a defendant's case is diverted, any bail bond on file pertaining to the defendant's case must be exonerated, and the court must issue an order so directing.
Admission of Guilt
Section 1001.3 of the California penal code asserts that California courts are prohibited from requiring the defendant to make an admission of guilt as a prerequisite for being placed in a diversion program. Additionally, no statements made by the divertee (the defendant granted entrance into a diversion program) during or connected to the diversion program may be used against him in any ongoing or future court proceedings.
Termination of Cause
Once a defendant enters a diversion program he is responsible for fulfilling the requirements to complete the program, and a failure to meet the requirements can result in a "termination of cause," which expels the person from the program. section 1001.4 establishes that, if a program instructor recommends a dependent for termination of cause, the defendant is entitled to a hearing to address the issue. At the hearing, the defendant can argue his case to remain in the diversion program, however information regarding his participation in the program, including statements made during the program, are admissible for the termination proceedings. After the hearing concludes, if the court rules in favor of the termination of cause, the defendant will be removed from the program and will have to undergo a trial for the initial misdemeanor offense.
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