Review of Penal Code 1001.80 PC Military Diversion in California
Anyone who served in the military could have been exposed to situations that might cause them to suffer trauma or mental health issues later when transitioning back to civilian life.
Veterans and active-duty personnel who suffer from trauma could be eligible for “military diversion,” rather than receiving jail time in California criminal cases.
Military diversion is a type of pretrial diversion described under California Penal Code 1001.80.
This statute gives a judge the authority to suspend criminal proceedings for misdemeanor crimes while the defendant receives treatment for their condition.
There are many veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”), or were victims of sexual trauma, or they might have developed an addiction to alcohol or drugs.
Due directly to these issues, there are a lot of military veterans who are charged with a crime, but there are programs and alternatives that can help them avoid a conviction.
If they successfully complete a military diversion program, the criminal charges against them will be dismissed and their arrest will be mostly considered that it never even happened.
Clearly, this can be a huge advantage for the veteran seeking employment who will be required to go through a criminal background check.
In order to be eligible for military diversion, they must be a veteran or current member of the United States Military, and as a direct result of their service, suffer from a variety of conditions.
To give readers a more useful information, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys are providing a detailed outline below.
What is Military Diversion?
California Penal Code 1001.80 is the statute that defines military diversion in misdemeanor cases if both of the following apply:
- "(1) Defendant was, or currently is, a member of the United States military. (2) Defendant might be suffering from sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or mental health problems due to their military service."
The court could request an assessment to aid in making a determination where the defendant is eligible. Unlike other California diversion programs, they are not required to plead guilty or no contest in order to obtain PC 1001.80 diversion.
As stated above, the judge will postpone criminal proceedings during the time the defendant is participating in getting treatment for their condition.
Once they complete treatment, their charges will be dropped. If they fail to complete the program, then the criminal court process will proceed as usual.
As stated in the above definition, PC 1001.80 allows a judge to hold off on misdemeanor criminal charges while the defendant is able to get treatment for the following conditions:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI),
- Substance abuse (drugs or alcohol),
- Sexual trauma,
- Mental health issues.
It should be noted that military diversion is only typically available for a first-time offender. If they have prior convictions, they will normally be referred to Veteran's Court.
Misdemeanor Crimes Qualifying for Diversion
Penal Code 1001.80 military diversion is available for a defendant that has been accused of committing certain California misdemeanor offenses. Some common crimes include:
- Vehicle Code 23152(a) – Driving under the influence,
- Vehicle Code 23152(b) – Driving with .08% blood alcohol,
- Health and Safety Code 11350 – Drug possession,
- Penal Code 647(f) – Drunk in public,
- Penal Code 415 – Disturbing the peace,
- Penal Code 240 – Assault,
- Penal Code 242 - Battery,
This list above does not include all misdemeanor crimes that would make the defendant eligible. The criminal courts have recognized that veterans often deal with unique issues that apply specifically to veterans charged with a crime.
How Does PC 1001.80 Military Diversion Work?
Typically, the defendant's criminal defense attorney will ask the court for military diversion. If defendant is eligible and the judge grants he request, they will be put into a pretrial diversion program.
Their criminal proceedings will be suspended between six months and two years while they are receiving treatment for their condition.
During this time, the defendant is expected to receive treatment for their underlying issues and they are also expected to complete all the relevant treatment programs.
If they successfully complete the diversion program, their arrest will be deemed to never have occurred.
This means they can answer “no” in response to any questions about their prior criminal history in most cases.
It should be noted, however, this would not apply if the same question was asked on a law enforcement application.
Typical military diversion programs will last from 12 to 24 months but can't exceed two years.
As stated, unlike other diversion programs in California, military diversion doesn't require a plea of guilty or no contest for a veteran to take advantage of this program.
If mental health treatment was ordered, the court could refer them to the Los Angeles county mental health services, as long as the agency accepts responsibility for all the necessary treatment and providing progress reports to the court.
Veteran's Court in California
If a veteran has been charged with a felony crime, they still have alternative options to deal with the charges.
Los Angeles County is one of several counties in California that run a “Veteran's Court” primarily designed to help military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, substance abuse, or other related issues.
When a defendant has been charged with certain California crimes, they might be able to have the case transferred to Veteran's Court.
This court works closely with the Veteran's Administration and can make sure the defendant has adequate access to needed programs and services, while monitoring their progress.
In a Veteran's Court, the defendant is expected to make all their regular court appearances where the judge will monitor their progress in various programs.
In a situation where the defendant is not following their requirements, the judge could sentence them on the original felony crime.
It should be noted that defendants who were charged with low-level and non-violent felonies, and have no “strike” offenses on their criminal record, will be eligible for Veteran's Court, but there are exceptions.
Again, after successful competition of the program, the criminal charges will be dismissed.
If you are a veteran or member of the military and were charged with a crime, call our office so we can examine the details and options.
We need to determine if you are eligible for a military diversion program defined under California Penal Code 1001.80.
Eisner Gorin LLP is based and Los Angeles County and you can contact us for a consultation at (310) 328-3776.