Understanding Pre-Filing Diversion in California

Understanding Pre-Filing Diversion in CaliforniaIf you are charged with a crime, your two biggest concerns are typically to avoid a conviction and avoid jail. If you can avoid a conviction, you will also be able to avoid any jail time. 

One way to avoid a conviction in California is through pre-filing diversion. If you have questions about your eligibility for pre-filing diversion, then make sure that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney.

What is Pre-Filing Diversion?

Pre-filing diversion is a program offered by the prosecutor’s office that allows an individual to keep a clean criminal record if they can complete certain requirements. If you are accepted into a pre-filing diversion program, you will be expected to follow specific rules and complete specific tasks. The presiding judge will determine the conditions of your pre-filing diversion case. 

Only certain cases and situations are eligible for pre-filing diversion. A prosecutor will make an assessment regarding the case, its circumstances, and your criminal history to determine whether to offer you a pre-filing diversion. All pre-filing diversion agreements must be in writing, given to the defendant, and signed by all parties involved.

California Pre-Filing Diversion Considerations

Pre-filing diversion in California must be offered and approved by the prosecutor. Prosecutors consider several factors before offering pre-filing diversion to a defendant, including:

  • The seriousness of the crime charged
  •  Whether the defendant has a criminal past
  • How likely the defendant is to complete a pre-filing diversion successfully
  • How likely it is that the defendant will re-offend
  • Any important factors that mitigate the defendant’s culpability

This is not a complete list. A prosecutor can take many other factors into account when deciding whether to offer you a pre-filing diversion. 

What Are the Requirements to Be Granted Pre-Filing Diversion?

Often the most important factor to getting a pre-filing diversion is admitting responsibility to the crime charged. You will have to admit the crime alleged to the satisfaction of both the prosecutor and judge. Pre-filing diversion is mostly offered to first-time offenders who are nonviolent. 

Some requirements that you will need to meet to be eligible for pre-filing diversion include:

  • No felony convictions in the last five years,
  • No convictions for offenses that would not qualify for pre-filing diversion in the last five years, 
  • No current or past charges or convictions involving a crime of violence, and

If you are charged with a felony or have a violent past, then you will likely not be eligible for pre-filing diversion. Pre-filing diversions are typically only offered in cases where the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor offense.

What Happens When Pre-Filing Diversion is Granted?

If you are given the opportunity for pre-filing diversion, you will have to agree to follow a set of rules and requirements set by the court for a period of time. You will likely have to pay fines and probation fees along with any substance abuse testing required. If you owe restitution, you will be expected to pay that restitution during your diversion period. 

You may also be required to make regular court appearances and meet with a probation agent. A pre-filing diversion can last over a year. If you complete all of your requirements without any issues, then the original charges will be dismissed, allowing you to keep your criminal record clean and avoid jail. 

What Happens if You Fail to Complete Pre-Filing Diversion?

If you don’t complete all of your diversion requirements, you will be removed from the program. You will start back at square one with your original criminal charges. This means that the potential of a conviction and jail time is back on the table. 

The only way to avoid a criminal conviction would be to win your case at a jury or bench trial or have your case dismissed by the judge for a legal issue. Pre-filing diversions are typically only offered once in California courts, so make sure you use your chance wisely.

Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help 

If you are charged with a crime, you should speak to an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney right away. Your attorney can help your pursue a pre-filing diversion, if eligible, and assist you in avoiding the harshest penalties for your crime.