Penal Code Chapter 2.9C 1001.80 Pretrial Diversion For Firearm Offenses
The Legislature has introduced a new bill that will establish a pretrial diversion education program for those who are arrested for nonviolent misdemeanor or felony firearms offenses. The bill will specify the guidelines and define the criteria, application and procedures related to the diversion program. The bill will further define the procedural elements associated with a dismissal of charges and elimination of an arrest, for purposes of criminal records. Along with these parameters, the bill will authorize the imposition of any costs and fines associated with the diversion program.
In recognizing the complexity of California firearm statutes and implementing regulations and the confusion created thereby, it is being recommended that a pretrial diversion education program be created. This education program would be an alternative to prosecution for those who qualify, meaning nonviolent firearm offenses.
The way the program would work is that it would postpone the prosecution of an offense either temporarily or permanently, at any point during the judicial process. If the individual performs satisfactorily during the period of diversion, the criminal charges will be dismissed. Further, any record filed with the Department of Justice would be updated with the disposition and any arrest record upon which the diversion was based shall be deemed never to have occurred.
No defendant will be required to make an admission of guilt as a prerequisite for placement in the pretrial diversion program. No statements made by the defendant in connection with the determination of his or her eligibility for diversion, shall be admissible in any action or proceeding.
The thought is that by educating offenders, the pretrial diversion program will help to reduce and/or eliminate future violations, reduce firearms involved accidents and misuse. Further, the intent is to encourage knowledge and responsibility about nonviolent firearms laws offenders.
However, the bill does not prevent any prosecuting attorney from pursuing charges against an individual who is suspected of an offense that may qualify for this pretrial diversion. When being considered for this diversion education program, the prosecution shall look at the following:
1) Whether the defendant has been on probation or parole that has ever been revoked.
2) Whether the defendant’s record indicates that he or she has previously been diverted.
3) Whether any classes described in Section 1001.83 exist within a reasonable distance from the residence of the defendant.
There are fees and fines associated with the program but, no person can be denied diversion due to their inability to pay the charges. Further, once the case has been diverted, any bail bond or deposit in lieu thereof on behalf of the defendant shall be exonerated.
The passing of this bill is extremely beneficial to individuals who qualify for and successfully complete, the pretrial diversion education program, in that their case will be dismissed, the Department of Justice will amend their records and the arrest record will be deemed not to exist. Further, when asked any questions concerning prior criminal record, the individual may respond that he or she was not arrested or diverted for the offense.