If you have a criminal or drunk driving charge and have served in the United States Armed Forces, you may be eligible for programs that will keep your record clear of convictions. By contacting an attorney that understands the programs available for our military, you have the best chances of avoiding a criminal conviction. Contact us today to discuss your options at your free appointment.
The military diversion program under California Penal Code section 1001.80 creates process whereby active military or veterans can apply for a pre-plea diversion. The purpose of military diversion is to help those you are serving, or have served, in the armed forces to have an alternative to a criminal conviction. Further, the veteran does not require an honorable discharge to be eligible for the diversion program.
To qualify, there must be some connection between your military career and a sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or mental health problems. If you are considering military diversion, it is important to obtain your medical records. It is also advisable to show disability documents so the judge will make the determination that you qualify for the military diversion program.
In Fresno, the pre-plea diversion does not require a guilty or no contest plea. By participating the military diversion program, the charges will be suspended during the time it takes to complete the program. Once the program is complete, the charges will be dismissed. The military or former military member will not be required to state he or she has a criminal conviction.
The maximum length of the military diversion program is two years, but may be shorter, depending on the individual's needs. The benefits of the military diversion may include 1) a program instead of costly trials, convictions, and incarceration; 2) Dismissal of certain criminal offenses following satisfactory attendance in the program; and, 3) The arrest will be treated like it “never occurred”. The only time the information would need to be disclosed is if the person is applying to become a peace officer.
The military diversion program does not exclude DUI charges. Therefore, if you are facing a DUI and would like to see if you qualify for the diversion program, it is best to speak to an experienced and dedicated DUI attorney that handles matters in Fresno to receive military diversion. To qualify for military diversion, you must meet certain requirements:
Even if you are not charged with a misdemeanor, you still may be able to obtain relief for your felony charges. Under Penal Code 1170.9, you may qualify for alternative sentencing when facing a felony or DUI charges.
In California, the law provides that any current or former member of any branch of the U.S. Military who may be suffering from sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or mental health problems as a result of your military service and charged with a crime is entitled to alternative sentencing.
In Fresno, the court has set up a veteran's court that will allow many felonies, as well as DUI cases, to be given special treatment to those that qualify. The program is an intense program, requiring a huge commitment, but if the person is successful, the Court will reduce charges, and may even dismiss the case.
Below are just some of the benefits of participating and completing the veteran's court program in Fresno:
Further, under California Penal Code 1170.91, the court must consider any factors relating to your military service as a factor in mitigation during felony sentencing. As a result, the judge may grant probation, or give you a more lenient sentence if a prison term is required.
It should also be noted that under PC 1170.91, you are required to enter a plea and be sentenced, but it does provide a vehicle to keep your record clear for the long term. Once you complete the program, the court has more options to reduce felonies to misdemeanors, and dismiss the charges.
By allowing the charges to be dismissed against you once you complete the program, the new laws can help you if you are trying to obtain new employment, financial aid, or housing. You would not be forced to keep the charges on your record after you complete the program.
Military diversion is a helpful tool for many military members, including veterans. But before deciding if military diversion is the right choice for you, it is important to determine the facts surrounding the charges, the evidence against you, and your prior criminal record. In some instances, diversion may not be a program for you.
At our criminal defense law firm, we will conduct an extensive investigation to determine if military diversion is an acceptable alternative when facing criminal charges in Fresno. We will use proactive measures to help you determine what steps are required to keep you from having a criminal conviction on your record. Call today for a free consultation to discuss whether military diversion is appropriate for your case.