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California’s statute that provides for mental health diversion is Penal Code 1001.36. This program allows certain individuals with mental health issues to receive treatment in lieu of prosecution and jail if they have been charged with a crime.
If the accused successfully completes treatment, the criminal charges get dismissed. The arrest record will then be sealed for most purposes and it will be as though the arrest had never happened.
Penal Code 1001.36 is the result of the passage of California Senate Bill 215 (SB 215), which became effective on June 27, 2018.
In this article, the California criminal defense attorneys of Spodek Law Group will discuss:
California’s “Mental Health Diversion” program makes it possible for some criminal defendants to get mental health treatment if they are accused of a crime. This is a form of “pretrial diversion” in California as set forth in Penal Code 1001.36 PC.
“Pretrial diversion” defined
“Pretrial diversion” programs allow a willing candidate to postpone further action in his or her case in order to participate in a treatment program. It may be requested at any point in a criminal case prior to sentencing.
The benefits of California’s pretrial diversion
On successful completion of a pretrial diversion treatment program, the charges against a defendant are dismissed. Their record of the arrest also gets sealed. After all is said and done, it will be as if the arrest had never happened.
The present mental health diversion program in the State of California resulted from the passage of California Senate Bill 8 (“SB 8”). The legislation in SB 8 / PC 1001.36 came into effect on June 27, 2018.
Misdemeanor and felony defendants alike may be considered for mental health diversion under PC 1001.36. That said, the court can only approve a program of treatment in the cases where all of the following conditions apply:
Mental health diversion under Penal Code 1001.36 can be a as long as two years. It can be an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
Before he or she approves a proposed treatment program, the judge must take under consideration:
The costs for mental health treatment under PC 1001.36 can be covered by private or public funds. If the accused cannot afford private treatment, the court could refer him or her to a county mental health agency or any existing collaborative court.
The defendant will only be able to avail himself or herself of a treatment program in the event that the designated entity has agreed to accept responsibility for the treatment, and there are available resources for which the defendant is eligible.
The provider of the selected diversion treatment program will provide consistent progress reports to the court. These reports will also be sent to the defense and the prosecution.
Sometimes, unexpected events occur during the course of the treatment. For example:
In cases where any of these triggering events take place, the court holds a hearing to determine whether:
Prior to the hearing, the court will notify the defendant, defense counsel, and the prosecuting attorney.
On the other hand, when the defendant successfully completes the treatment program, at the end of the diversion period the court dismisses all charges. A person is considered to have successfully completed a mental health diversion program when he or she:
If the defendant did not successfully completed the program, then the court will reinstate the criminal proceedings against the them.
Upon a defendant’s successful completion of mental health diversion, the charges against the defendant will be dismissed. The arrest record is sealed. For most purposes, it will be as if the arrest and prosecution never took place. The record would not be available for use in denying the individual any benefit, employment, license, or certificate.
Sealing an arrest record in California does not remove it from consideration by an immigration judge.
Immigrants are advised to consult with an experienced California criminal defense lawyer before agreeing to participate in any diversion program.
Sicne the summer of 2018, the California legislature has been considering another mental health diversion law. The bill that at the time of this writing is still under consideration is California Senate Bill 215 (SB 215), which has since been amended by the California Assembly. The passage of this bill would mean a new law, California Penal Code 1001.82 PC. Under proposed PC 1001.82, mental health diversion would be pretty much the same as under PC 1001.36, but with the following important differences:
The progress reports from the treatment provider would be required at least every three months.
If you or your loved one has a mental disorder and has been charged with a crime, feel free to call us for your free consultation.
Call our offices to discuss your case in confidence with one of the experienced California criminal lawyers of Spodek Law Group. We understand the best defenses for individuals with mental illnesses who get charged with a crime in California.
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