There are many types of pretrial diversion programs available throughout Southern California which are available to persons charged with crimes, and are tailored to their particular circumstances. The following is a list of examples of diversionary programs and alternatives to proceeding with a criminal case in Superior Court:

PC 1000/DEJ

Penal Code § 1000 (a.k.a. PC 1000, Deferred Entry of Judgment or “DEJ”) is California’s statutory pretrial diversion program for simple possession drug crimes. PC 1000 allows non-violent drug offenders to obtain treatment and education instead of suffering a conviction and receiving jail time. If a person enters a PC 1000 program, and successfully completes it, the charges are dismissed.

PC 1000 is limited by statute to a person charged with: Health & Safety Code §§ 11350; 11357; 11358 if the marijuana planted, cultivated, harvested, dried, or processed is for personal use;

11364; 11365; 11368 if the narcotic drug was secured by a fictitious prescription and is for the personal use of the defendant and was not sold or furnished to another; 11375(b)(2); 11377; 11550; Vehicle Code § 23222(b); Penal Code §§ 381; 647(f); and 653f if the solicitation was for acts directed to personal use only.

Additionally, these other conditions must be met: 1.) defendant must not have been convicted of a PC 1000-eligible offense within 5 years; 2.) the current charge must not involve violence; 3.) there must be no additional evidence of a more serious drug offense (such as possession for sales); and 4.) the defendant must not have suffered a felony convictions in the last 5 years.

RISE Program

In San Bernardino County, the District Attorney’s Office and Public Defender’s Office have partnered with the Law and Justice Group to present the Rehabilitation, Intervention, Support, and Education (“RISE”) program for eligible defendants, and as another pretrial diversion option.

For RISE, the DA’s Office assigns the offender conditions to complete in the RISE program. These can be individual to each participant and case, but typically include: payment of restitution, payment of RISE program costs, a 4.5 hour community accountability class administered by RISE, one other educational component determined by the RISE Coordinator, community service, and completion of an exit interview.

Unlike PC 1000, there is no set list of charges which are included or excluded, but the DA’s Office has the sole discretion to determine who is eligible to participate. Once a defendant completes the RISE program, their case is dismissed.

Veterans Court

Veterans Court is an interactive program involving a judicial officer, the prosecutor, defense counsel, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and other community organizations to target the root cause of criminal behavior stemming from trauma or conditions resulting from active service in the US Military.

Eligibility requirements vary by county, but most Veterans Courts accept certain types of felony and misdemeanor cases and require participants to: 1.) Have served in the military, 2.) Plead guilty in a criminal case, 3.) Be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), substance or other diagnosed disorders; and 4.) Agree to participate in a 15 to 18-month program.

Veterans Court is different that pretrial diversion in that it requires the defendant to plead guilty to the charged offense(s) before beginning treatment. However, once the program is successfully completed, the defendant can petition to have the case dismissed after the fact, similar to an expungement.

Drug Court

Drug courts are specialized court docket programs that target criminal defendants and offenders, juvenile offenders, and parents with pending child welfare cases who have alcohol and other drug dependency problems.

Although drug courts vary in target population, program design, and service resources, they are generally based on a comprehensive model involving: Offender screening and assessment of risks, needs, and responsivity; Judicial interaction; Monitoring (e.g., drug testing) and supervision; Graduated sanctions and incentives; and treatment and rehabilitation services.

Drug courts are usually managed by a non-adversarial and multidisciplinary team including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, community corrections officers, social workers and treatment service professionals. Support from stakeholders representing law enforcement, the family and the community is encouraged through participation in hearings, programming and events like graduation.

Most adult drug courts in California are post-adjudication models in which participants are placed in drug court after entering a guilty plea. Charges can often be reduced after successful completion of the drug court program. Graduation requirement vary but typically involve completion of educational and job training requirements in addition to sobriety.  Diversion and pre-plea model courts work similarly, but do not require an initial guilty plea.

Mental Health Court

Mental health courts are a form of collaborative court that provides specific services and treatment to defendants dealing with mental illness. Mental health courts provide an alternative to the traditional court system by emphasizing a problem-solving model and connecting defendants to a variety of rehabilitative services and support networks. Each MHC has different participant requirements and available services.

The goal of a mental health court is to: support participants successful return to society and reduce recidivism; increase public safety; and improve individual’s quality of life.

Mental health courts only accept people with demonstrable mental illnesses that can be connected to the individual’s illegal behavior. Participation in a mental health court is voluntary and the defendant must consent to involvement in the program.

Screening and referral to a mental health court should occur as soon as possible after arrest to insure early intervention. Screening is also used to determine whether a mental health court can provide appropriate resources and support to the individual.

Mental health courts use a structure of case management based in intensive supervision/monitoring and individual accountability. Case management is supervised by a team of professionals; teams are typically comprised of members of the justice system, mental health providers, and other support systems. The judge oversees the treatment and supervision process, and facilitates collaboration among team members.

Mental Health Diversion (New to 2019)

Mental health diversion is a new program initiative in San Bernardino County that was launched in 2019 and is a collaborative effort between the courts, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, and the Department of Behavioral Health.

The program was created pursuant to the statewide mandate codified in Penal Code §§ 1001.35 and 1001.36. Under this program, defense counsel files the initial application for mental health diversion and the case is referred to the designated mental health diversion judge for that location. The judge then makes a determination whether the defendant meets all of the requirements for referral to the Department of Behavioral Health for treatment and diversion.

In order to satisfy the requirements for diversion in court, the defendant must: 1.) be recently diagnosed by a qualified mental health expert, who has determined that the defendant suffers from a mental disorder(s) as identified in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; 2.) satisfy the court that the defendant’s mental disorder was a significant factor in the commission of the charged offense; 3.) in the opinion of a qualified mental health expert, be experiencing or has experienced behavior which motivated the criminal behavior and would respond to mental health treatment; 4.) satisfy the court that the defendant will not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to the community if treated in the community; 5.) satisfy the court that the recommended inpatient or outpatient treatment program will meet the specialized needs of the defendant; 6.) satisfy the court that the provider of the mental health treatment program in which the defendant has been placed shall provide regular reports to the court, the defense, and the prosecutor on the defendant’s progress in treatment; 7.) consent to diversion, the treatment program, and waives their rights to a speedy trial.

After a successful showing has been made to the court that the defendant meets all of the above-listed requirements, the case is typically referred to the Department of Behavioral Health. The Department of Behavioral Health then makes its own determination if the defendant can be treated based on the individual needs of their condition.

If the defendant performed satisfactorily in diversion and treatment, at the end of the period of diversion, the court shall dismiss the criminal charges that were the subject of the criminal proceedings at the time of the initial diversion. A court may conclude that the defendant performed satisfactorily if they have substantially complied with the requirements of diversion, have avoided significant new violations of law unrelated to their mental health condition, and have a plan in place for long-term mental health care. If the court dismisses the charges, the clerk of the court shall file a record with the Department of Justice indicating the disposition of the case diverted pursuant to this section. Upon successful completion of diversion, if the court dismisses the charges, the arrest upon which the diversion was based shall be deemed never to have occurred, and the court shall order access to the record of the arrest restricted in accordance with Section 1001.9, except as specified in subdivisions (g) and (h). If successful in completing diversion the defendant may indicate in response to any question concerning their prior criminal record that they were not arrested or diverted for the offense, except as specified in subdivision (g).