Judicial Diversion in California – Penal Code Section 1001.94

What is judicial diversion?

Penal Code Section 1001.94 was enacted to create a system in which first time offenders could earn a dismissal of their case such that it would not affect their future like a criminal conviction does.  This section creates a process by which a case can be settled outside the norm of normal case settlement procedures: without the prosecutor.  While the prosecutor (District Attorney or City Attorney) is responsible for all criminal charging, settlement lies within the discretion of the courts.  This section, also known as “Judicial Diversion” is a deal that your attorney reaches directly with the judge.

The maximum diversionary period for cases that qualify under this section is 12 months, however the term can be shorter.  What does this mean?  If your attorney reaches an agreement with the court for terms on your case, you will be required to do a number of things during your diversionary period.  These things typically include community service, certain relevant counseling meetings, and any other creative terms the court can come up with to make you stay on track (i.e. “stay in school”).  If you complete all of the terms required during your diversionary period, your case is dismissed.  If you do not, however, the judge can sentence you up the the maximum sentence allowed by your charges.

While this code section creates an avenue for dismissal, skilled motion-work and in-court representation is required to secure these deals.  If you approach your request for diversion in the wrong manner or with an inexperienced advocate, you could derail your opportunity to have your slate wiped clean after a criminal charge.

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