Judicial Diversion under California Penal Code 1001.94 allows a criminal case to be dismissed upon completion of certain conditions. The statute authorizes a case to be dismissed by the Judge even over the objections of the District Attorney or Prosecutor in the case. The law in California allows for this to be done in Los Angeles County. It is unique to other forms of Diversion to the extent that it allows the Defense Attorney to request a dismissal directly from the Court and bypass the DA. For this reason it is sometimes referred to as Court Diversion. It differs from PC1000 which is limited solely to drug offenses. Relief under this law requires the defendant to have essentially a clean record and be charged with certain misdemeanor offenses. Some crimes such as DUI and domestic violence crimes do not qualify. Obtaining Judicial Diversion is not easy and many Judges do not offer it as a way to obtain a dismissal.
So at the end of the diversionary period the charges are dismissed, What happens to the arrest record?
Penal Code 1001.96(b) addresses that issue as follows:
It states that If the defendant, during the period of deferral imposed pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 1001.94, complies with all terms, conditions, and programs required by the court, then, the judge shall, at the end of the period, strike the defendant s plea and dismiss the action against the defendant.
(b) Upon successful completion of the terms, conditions, or programs ordered by the court, the arrest upon which sentencing was deferred shall be deemed to have never occurred. The defendant may indicate in response to any question concerning his or her prior criminal record that he or she was not arrested or granted deferred entry of judgment for the offense, except as specified in subdivision (c). A record pertaining to an arrest resulting in successful completion of the terms, conditions, or programs ordered by the court shall not, without the defendant s consent, be used in any way that could result in the denial of any employment, benefit, license, or certificate.
(c) The defendant shall be advised that, regardless of his or her successful completion of the terms, conditions, or programs ordered by the court pursuant to this chapter, the arrest upon which the judgment was deferred may be disclosed by the Department of Justice in response to a peace officer application request and that, notwithstanding Section 1001.94, this section does not relieve him or her of the obligation to disclose the arrest in response to a direct question contained in a questionnaire or application for a position as a peace officer, as defined in Section 830.
Why is this significant? The Judicial Diversion statute in California gives the defendant in a criminal case the added benefit of having, not only the charges dismissed, but also the arrest record itself removed to the extent that it cannot be used to deny employment or a license.
The exception is that the arrest would need to be disclosed by applicants seeking to be a peace officer.
This outcome is seemingly better than if the charges were simply dismissed by the District Attorney under Penal Code 1385 (in the interest of justice). Arguably, a dismissal by way of Judicial diversion is better than if the accused is acquitted after trial or found not guilty. In that case the arrest record remains and the defendant is not given the same authority to deny that an arrest ever occurred.
For this reason a dismissal of the case pursuant to Judicial Diversion under Penal Code 1001.94 appears to be one of the best ways to resolve a criminal charge in California.
Torrance Criminal Defense Attorney Matthew Ruff has obtained dozens of Judicial or Court Diversion dismissals for his clients in Los Angeles County cases such as petty theft, public intoxication, solicitation of prostitution, assault, battery, urinating in public, among many others.