What is “Diversion” in California?

August 12, 2016

To make it simple, there are two types of diversion in California – formal diversion and information diversion. In legal terms, diversion arguably avoids a criminal conviction on someone’s record. Diversion is typically offered when someone is a first-time offender or is facing drug charges.

Formal diversion occurs when someone enters a plea, either guilty or no contest to the charge(s). Formal sentencing is continued to a later date. Legally, someone is only “convicted” of a crime if they were formally sentenced by the judge. Since sentencing is continued to a later date, a diversion plea avoids a conviction. In the time between entering a plea and formal sentencing, a defendant is required to complete the terms of the diversion plea. Terms may include drug counseling, AA meetings, community service, community labor, domestic violence counseling, etc. If the defendant completes the terms of the diversion plea, the judge will withdraw the guilty or not contest plea and dismiss the case. Consequently, someone avoids a formal conviction on their record.

However, although a case has been legally dismissed, the plea of guilty or no contest may still need to be reported if someone were to apply for public employment. This includes applying to become a police officer, public school teacher, or city worker. In addition, a formal diversion plea may have adverse effects on someone’s ability to own or possess a firearm or gain or maintain a state license.

Informal diversion is far more beneficial for a criminal defendant. Informal diversion occurs when the case is continued for a certain period of time without entering a plea or guilty or not contest. In the meantime, the defendant is required to complete the terms of the diversion – e.g., counseling, AA, community service, etc. If a defendant completes their obligations, the case will be dismissed.

For more information, contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers for a free consultation.

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