Legal Help for Misdemeanor Diversion

Navigating the legal system can be daunting, especially when facing misdemeanor charges. Fortunately, California offers a misdemeanor diversion program that can provide an alternative to traditional prosecution. This program can ultimately lead to the dismissal of charges if completed successfully, making it a valuable option for many defendants.

Understanding the Misdemeanor Diversion Program

The misdemeanor diversion program in California is designed to give eligible defendants a chance to avoid a criminal conviction by completing certain court-ordered conditions. According to Penal Code section 1001.95, a judge in the superior court where the misdemeanor is being prosecuted has the discretion to offer diversion to a defendant, even over the objection of the prosecuting attorney. The diversion period can last up to 24 months, during which the defendant must comply with terms, conditions, or programs deemed appropriate by the judge.

Typical conditions may include:

  • Completing a court-ordered program.
  • Making full restitution to any victims.
  • Complying with protective orders or stay-away orders.

Benefits of Misdemeanor Diversion in California

Participating in a misdemeanor diversion program can have significant benefits:

  1. Dismissal of Charges: Upon successful completion of the program, the charges against the defendant will be dismissed.
  2. Clean Record: According to Penal Code section 1001.97, the arrest upon which diversion was based will be deemed never to have occurred. This means that the defendant can legally state that they were not arrested, which can be crucial for employment, housing, and other opportunities.
  3. Avoiding Jail Time: The diversion program can prevent a defendant from serving time in jail, providing an opportunity for rehabilitation rather than punishment.

How to Qualify for Misdemeanor Diversion

To qualify for misdemeanor diversion in California, a defendant must meet specific criteria set forth by the court. Certain offenses are not eligible for diversion, including:

  • Offenses requiring registration pursuant to Section 290.
  • Violations of Section 273.5 (domestic violence).
  • Violations of subdivision (e) of Section 243 (battery).
  • Violations of Section 646.9 (stalking).

If a defendant is eligible, their lawyer must file a motion to divert the case. The judge will then decide whether to grant diversion based on the defendant’s specific situation. If granted, the defendant must comply with all conditions set by the court, such as completing a rehabilitation program or making restitution.


The misdemeanor diversion program in California offers a valuable opportunity for defendants to avoid the long-term consequences of a criminal conviction. By understanding the program’s requirements and benefits, and working with experienced legal counsel, defendants can navigate this alternative legal pathway effectively. If you are facing misdemeanor charges, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your eligibility for the misdemeanor diversion program and protect your future.