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The Pros and Cons of Pre-Trial Diversion in California

Prosecutors in many jurisdictions offer something called a pre-trial diversion on minor charges. In this article, a Sacramento criminal defense attorney will explain to you what this entails.

What generally happens in a pre-trial diversion program is the following:

  1. You agree to an adjournment of your case for about a year and stay out of trouble and/or complete something like a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program or payment restitution (for example, paying back what you stole or paying for property damage you caused); then
  2. The charge against you will be dismissed and your criminal record will be expunged.

While pre-trial diversion usually benefits the defendant, it is not always appropriate or wise to accept when offered. Prosecutors will generally give a defendant only one chance at pre-trial diversion, so a defendant who accepts the program on one arrest is disqualified from pre-trial diversion for a subsequent, potentially more serious arrest.

Your Sacramento criminal defense attorney can advise you on the strength of the prosecution’s case against you. If your chances of being arrested again are high (for example, you’re a driver with a drinking problem, a serious marijuana smoker, or a dedicated political protestor) and the prosecution’s case is weak, you might want to save your chance at a pre-trial diversion for a future arrest where you face more severe charges. Some defendants would also just rather be done with the case by paying a fine or serving a short jail sentence.

If you’ve been arrested for a misdemeanor, experienced Sacramento criminal defense attorney Param Pabla may be able to help you. For an initial consultation, simply fill out the form on this page.

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“Param was excellent in my court case of failure to stop at a stop sign. The officer could not see clearly because he was too far away. The officer insisted he could and said he had video but could not produce it at the trial. The officer then asked if he could suspend the trial to go get the video but the judge said he should have had plenty of time to get the video ready beforehand. Needless to say, the judge ruled in my favor and dismissed the case which enraged the officer. Pabla Param’s defense and cross examination skills were excellent and paramount in having the case dismissed. Highly recommended.” T.C.
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