The Military Diversion program is a pretrial program that is suited to hear and sentence military officers who may have been found guilty of certain misdemeanors. The sentencing and reformatory system is quite different from typical criminal or civil proceedings, as will be explained to you by an attorney from the Law Offices of Jeff Voll. We are well experienced and happy to help with the process of Military Diversion, which we will expound further in this article.

What is the Nature and Process of a MIlitary Diversion?

The process of applying for a military diversion begins when a defendant is arrested and arraigned in court for trial. A pre-plea is then applied by the defendant, with a claim of Military diversion, whose purpose is to create an alternative to criminal proceedings and conviction, which follows strict and rigid rules of law. The court may apply different forms of Military Diversion, ranging from Supervision of the offender, probation, which takes place before judgment and is normally unsupervised or treatment of the offender. All these forms are subject to the relevant facts of the case leading to the arrest of the suspect and therefore, vary from one offender to another.

The program is only available to first-time offenders for various reasons. One of them is because, as a member of the military in the United States, it is a general presumption that a high level of discipline and decorum is upheld at all times. Therefore, a repeat offender will normally be an indication of an unruly person who has defied regulations of the military. Secondly, if the law were to apply the program to all repeat offenders, there would be a slow-down in the treatment system as medical professionals attempt to rehabilitate previous offenders who may be rebellious to the treatment system. This denies a chance at treatment for genuinely needy defendants who may be undergoing serious conditions.

Does Military Diversion Apply to Me?

The law in California exclusively states who may be eligible for Military Diversion. Chapter 2.9C of the Criminal Procedure makes the provisions of the program. This is expounded on in section 1000.80(a) of the Penal Code, which states that it is applicable to any person who was or still is a member of the United States military. This includes all branches of the military, which are the Coast Guard, the Army, the Navy, the Space Force, the Marine Corps, and the Airforce. The provision allows retrospective action by including persons who have since left the Military. That means that veterans may apply for Military Diversion as well.

What do I Need to Prove Upon Applying for Military Diversion?

Section 1000.80 further makes the requirements that need to be met by applicants of Military Diversion available through subsection (2). The subsection states that the defendant needs to prove that he or she was suffering from sexual trauma, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, or traumatic brain injury. Proof of any of these conditions can suffice in the application of the program. However, certain aspects of the disorders also need to be proved. In PTSD cases, the defendant should exhibit symptoms such as inability to function normally, avoidance of certain feelings, getting sudden flashbacks and nightmares, as well as avoiding certain locations or types of environments. The condition should have also persisted for about a month, for an application to be considered valid. Since PTSD is often as a result of intense violent experiences, it is important to understand that different people might exhibit varying symptoms depending on the gravity of past experiences. The case of substance abuse is also sensitive to handle as quite often, there needs to be proof of addiction. The difficulty in this is that most people suffering from addiction are often in denial or have diminished mental reactiveness, and therefore, do not think or act rationally. However, in applying for Military Diversion, these are the most helpful characteristics that need to be shown, in order for a court to be convinced to seek an alternative form of reformation. The substance abuse may be used by the defendant as a means of coping with PTSD, which can be helpful in determining what kind of treatment the court may order. Sexual trauma is also a very sensitive topic for most defendants, and it often requires the help of a psychiatrist to establish the symptoms portrayed by the accused person and how it may have triggered him or her in committing the offense amounting to a misdemeanor. Finally, for traumatic brain injury, there has to be a professional’s opinion as well as medical proof of the condition, for which lack of may put a defendant in a more disadvantaged position.

Offices Involved in the Military Diversion Program

The Military Diversion program works together with several government offices, which enables the judges in court to seek appropriate remedies for the defendants. Some of the offices include the District Attorney’s office, which is in charge of public prosecution of criminal cases. The office has to approve the Military Diversion program so that it can suspend criminal proceedings that may have commenced earlier. Secondly, the Probation department is crucial in Military Diversion, as it allows the process to begin before the judgment is issued against a defendant. The Behavioural Health and Recovery Services also has a huge role to play in operations of the program because naturally, it is tasked with providing viable remedies for the defendants in need of reform. They may need to give expert opinions from medical professionals, who make an assessment on the defendant. Last but not least, the Department of Veteran Affairs has to be part of a Military Diversion Program as it is the body certified to verify the validity and identity of the defendant in question. It is also helpful in providing previously recorded information that is relevant and builds credibility to the current case against the defendant.

Remedies for Offenders Under Military Diversion

The road to recovery after starting the program comes in different forms. The first available option is through treatment, which involves medics and other professionals in the field. It is important for the defendant to know that he or she should not give up his legal rights in following the due process of law. For example, a defendant should not be detained without proper court proceedings if he or she does not comply with the requirements given during treatment.

There are varying forms of treatment, which include drug treatment. It is relevant to defendants found guilty of misdemeanors related to drugs and consumption. They are mostly found to be addicted, and appropriate measures are required to be taken to prevent a recurrence. A Drug Treatment Court handles these kinds of cases, which is a more effective system structure that allows faster issuance of orders. The court may order drug classes for the defendant, where they are given extensive information on drugs and their dangers. For example, drivers charged with DUIs are given extensive DUI classes on the dangers of drunk driving. The classes also allow reasonable coerciveness of instructors towards defendants in an effort to prevent a relapse. In addition, Rehabilitation is available for the defendants, where they live in a confined and controlled environment that aims at gradually reducing dependence on drugs. The goal in mind in this treatment is to flush out all the drug content in the body.

For victims of sexual trauma and  PTSD, therapy is the most suitable and effective method of treatment. It does not have to include typical sessions with a therapist, rather a broken down routine that encourages the defendant to face all his or her tormenting thoughts and accept that they cannot harm him or her anymore. This helps in fixing the defendant on the present and preventing situations where he or she experiences traumatic memories. Effectiveness has been shown where patients were introduced to journalling, where they write how they feel at certain points of time. Actual sessions with therapists are also helpful as the therapist is well trained in identifying issues and offering helpful tips on how to deal with the problem. In addition, yoga is great for meditation, where defendants can practice facing their demons head-on and allowing themselves to let go of the traumatic experiences.

If the required conditions are met, and the defendant shows good progress on improvement, criminal charges will be dropped against him or her. The court requires a record of recent events and activities that prove a reformed pattern.

What Happens to an Unreformed Defendant under Military Diversion?

The Penal Code gives the process to be followed if a defendant does not reform. Section 1000.80 (c ) states that prior notice first has to be given to the defendant informing him or her that lack of progress has been observed, which means that there is no improvement or benefit gained by the defendant. If that is the case, the court can hold a hearing to determine whether the defendant should continue with the program. If the defendant’s report is unsatisfactory, the court terminates the Military Diversion program, and criminal proceedings against him or her will resume.

Contact a Criminal Attorney Near Me

Most of us would be glad to have a fresh start in life, free from the previous record of wrongs. For any person who has served in the military and may require professional help on Military Diversion applications, Law Offices of Jeff Voll is the right place for you. Contact us at 323-467-6400 today.  We would be glad to help you, a brave individual who has fought to keep our borders safe.