Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law

Do I qualify for mental health diversion?

Diversion programs in California aim to help those accused of a crime seek rehabilitation rather than punishment. You may be familiar with diversion as a program for misdemeanor crimes like driving while intoxicated or possession of drugs.

However, the state of California also provides a mental health diversion program if you suffer from certain mental illnesses. Rather than disciplinary action, the state can offer you the opportunity for treatment and therapy. A diversion program can apply to both misdemeanor and felony crimes.

Under the California Penal Code, a pretrial diversion program may be offered to those suffering from mental illnesses. Conditions like posttraumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder may qualify. Certain diseases are not eligible. Those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder and pedophilia are not considered for mental health diversion programs. Additionally, diversion is not available for all crimes. Murder, voluntary manslaughter and most sex crimes do not qualify.

Additionally, the court must determine that the illness played a significant role in causing you to commit the crime. A judge will review certain documents to determine your eligibility. Witness statements, police reports and preliminary hearing transcripts provide the judge with evidence that you were suffering from symptoms at or around the time of the incident. A judge will also consider your medical records and statements given by your doctor or other qualified medical experts. They must also feel that treatment would have a positive impact on your behavior in the future.

This information is presented to provide you with details about mental health diversion. It is not intended as legal advice.