Diversion stops all court proceedings. While the case is stayed, the defendant must complete classes or programs, pay restitution for damages, and follow all other court orders. If the defendant successfully completes those requirements, the case will be dismissed and in some cases the arrest is deemed to have not occurred.

Types of Diversion


Under Penal Code section 1001.80, military veterans may receive treatment and other services and may be able to dismiss their case, reduce felonies to misdemeanors, and avoid jail time.


Misdemeanor diversion under Penal Code section 1001.95 is possible for most misdemeanor charges. However, it is not available for misdemeanor violations of Penal Code section 273.5 (domestic violence), Penal Code 243(e) (domestic violence battery), Penal Code 646.9 (stalking), or any crime for which registration is required under Penal Code section 290 (sex offender registration).

Mental Health

Mental health diversion was created in 2018 when the Legislature enacted Penal Code 1001.36. The goal of the law is to curtail prosecution against persons suffering from mental health disorders. PC 1001.36 extended diversion opportunities to felony cases provided the defendant meets certain eligibility requirements

District Attorney

Many prosecutors offices already have a misdemeanor diversion program that they offer to defendants facing non-violent misdemeanor charges. Sometimes the prosecutor will offer these programs before any criminal case is filed with the Court. If charges are filed, the defendant can still be placed into a prosecution diversion program by negotiating with the prosecutor.


Treatment courts and many other programs are available at courthouses throughout California. Programs include Proposition 36, Penal Code 1000 and Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ).

Length of Diversion

Although the length can be up to 24 months, it typically lasts 6 months to one year. For some prosecutor programs, the length is 90 days. However, the defendant can ask the Judge to terminate diversion prematurely once they have successfully completed all conditions and programs.

Terms of Diversion

Terms and conditions are usually crafted to address the defendants charges. For example, if the defendant is charged with drunk in public, AA meetings and an alcohol course may be ordered. For a petty theft charge, the defendant could be ordered to pay restitution for their damages and attend a theft awareness course.

RBX Law is a licensed California criminal defense lawyer.