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Informal Diversion – An Alternative to a Conviction on Your Record

What is Informal Diversion?

Informal Diversion is new law recently enacted that allows a plea of guilty or no contest to be stayed pending certain terms or conditions to be completed. If they are completed sufficiently and to the court’s satisfaction, the Judgment will not be entered.

What is the relevant law behind Informal Diversion?

Informal Diversion is codified under California Penal Code §1001.94 and 1001.95. The code section reads:

“A judge in the superior court of the County of Los Angeles may, at his or her discretion and over the objection of a prosecuting attorney, defer sentencing a defendant who has submitted a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a misdemeanor pursuant to this chapter. Sentencing may be deferred for a period not to exceed 12 months, and the judge may order the defendant to comply with terms, conditions, or programs that the judge deems appropriate based on the defendant's specific situation.”

Who can request Informal Diversion?

Informal Diversion may be ordered upon the Judge’s discretion. However, pursuant to California Penal code §1001.94(c), the person being charged may also request Informal Diversion. If the person is represented by a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer, they lawyer may file a motion or make a request to the Court for Informal Diversion.

What offenses does Informal Diversion apply to?

Informal Diversion may be applied to lower level misdemeanors. An explanation as to which types of offenses are exempted from qualification are codified under California Penal Code §1001.98.

Why is this important to me?

If you qualify, this could mean no record and no conviction. This is extremely important because a criminal record could have significant consequences on your future educational and employment opportunities. This is similar to a dismissal, but your charges are not dismissed for lack of evidence, or because Prosecution could not find you guilty.

How about an example to illustrate the issue?

Dina has been charged with petty theft. She appears before the Judge, and the Judge on his own motion offers the informal diversion program. He asks that Dina complete 50 hours of community service, pay her restitution, and give a saliva sample for future law enforcement records. Dina, agreeing with the Judge, enters a plea of guilty and is then given a year to complete her hours and pay her restitution. She gives a spit sample right away, and completes everything within a year. She then returns before the Judge, and having completed everything to the Court’s satisfaction, her Judgment of not guilty is not entered. There will be no charges on her criminal record.

If Informal Diversion is available in your case, it is an option seriously worth considering. For help in assessing the pros and cons of the option, as well as other options and defenses, it is highly recommended that you speak to a knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer. You will be glad that you took the time to learn about your case, and make an informed, educated decision that you can be confident with!