Military Diversion in Your Criminal Case

You’ve served our country and have now been arrested in California. It brings up a lot of questions.  In other articles, we have discussed sentencing issues and the procedure after an arrest. But what about a Military Diversion? Can having served your country in the armed forces help us dismiss your criminal case? Is it even possible to keep your record clean through a diversion process after being arrested?


Diversion is a process whereby a defendant fulfills some conditions and then the case is dismissed.  That’s right – the case is dismissed, gone, like it never happened.  Conditions usually include some sort of treatment and obeying all laws for a period of time.  California law provides for a few different diversion options that can apply in a case.  One in Mental Health Diversion under Penal Code section 1001.36.  Another is Military (or veterans) Diversion under Penal Code section 1001.80.

In the past, some criminal cases were excluded from these diversion programs, but recent changes in the law make diversion available in many cases.


The California state legislature holds that that military diversion is available in a California criminal case.

To prevail on a military diversion motion, the defense must demonstrate:

(A)   The defendant was, or currently is, a member of the United States military.

(B)   The defendant may be suffering from sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or mental health problems as a result of his or her military service.

In making these determinations, the court will consider the defendant’s service record, mental health reports, and other information provided by the defense.  If the court makes these findings, it may place the defendant in a pretrial diversion program for up to two years.  Conditions will include a treatment program designed to address the conditions in (B) above.  If the defendant successfully completes the program prescribed by the court, then the criminal case will be completely dismissed.

Keep in mind that military diversion can apply to veterans as well as currently serving members of the United States military.

So, if you are charged with a crime in California, be sure to tell your California criminal attorney about your military service – past or present.  It just might be the key to keeping your record clean.


At Criminal Defense Heroes, we work with experts who are experienced in evaluating our clients, and submitting reports that carry weight in court.  Our experts understand these diversion programs, and know how to write their reports to maximize the chances of qualifying.  Based on the expert’s report, we draft a motion for California  diversion, and then argue the case to the judge.  While this process is going on, we’re also requesting documents, reports, audio, video, and crime lab evidence, and evaluating possible defenses to the charges.  Attorney Don Hammond and his team have the training and experience to fully evaluate all aspects of each case, to determine the best course of action – in some cases that’s a California diversion, and in other cases, we fight the charges head-on.