California Senate Bill 215, which was signed into law in 2018, enables the court to grant a pretrial diversion program for defendants with a mental disorder that have been accused of committing specific crimes. This means that instead of going to prison, defendants who meet the criteria for the program will receive care and treatment for their mental illness. If the defendant successfully completes the program, the arrest related to the original charges will be sealed and destroyed.
To be eligible for the program, a defendant must meet these requirements:
Defendants who have committed the following crimes are not eligible for this program:
To determine eligibility for the program, a comprehensive evaluation completed by a mental health professional will include:
How long will the mental health diversion program take? The court may grant mental health diversion for a period no longer than 2 years.
What will the mental health diversion program consist of? The treatment program can consist of either inpatient or outpatient treatment, including alcohol or drug treatment.
What happens when a defendant completes the mental health diversion program? If the defendant completes the treatment, the court will dismiss the charges and the case will be sealed.
Who pays for the mental health diversion program? The treatment can be paid for by either private or public funds.
What is the mental health provider responsible for during the mental health diversion program? The provider must offer regular reports to the court, the defense, and the prosecutor on the defendant’s progress in treatment.
What happens if the defendant fails to comply with the requirements of the mental health diversion program? If the defendant does not comply with the treatment program, the mental health diversion program can be terminated, and criminal proceedings will be reinstated.
Additional situations that can result in the reinstatement of criminal proceedings include:
If the defendant is able to complete the treatment program, the court will dismiss the charges. The court may conclude that the defendant has performed satisfactorily if the defendant has:
After the mental health diversion program is completed, the arrest related to the original charges will be sealed and destroyed. It will be as if the arrest and prosecution never happened. The arrest cannot be used to deny the defendant any employment, benefit, license, or certificate.
There are several exceptions when sealed arrest records and records of successful participation in the diversion program can be used:
Medens Health believes that those suffering from a mental illness deserve access to quality care. We offer defendants a second chance by helping them overcome the mental health challenges that played a role in the crimes they committed. Our qualified experts can evaluate defendants to determine if they are eligible for the pretrial diversion program. For those who are, we offer continuing care, with a treatment program designed to rehabilitate them in the timeline mandated by the court.
The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.
If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.