U.S. military personnel face unique psychological and physical challenges, often leading to domestic violence incidents between servicemen and women and their spouses, intimate partners or family members.
Recognizing the tremendous stress faced by military families, California law created a military diversion program, which provides an alternative to jail and other traditional forms of punishment for those convicted.
Eligibility requirements for military personnel
The military diversion program allows service members to receive treatment instead of jail time by going through a treatment or education program. Once successfully completing diversion, domestic violence charges can be dismissed. To be eligible, defendants:
- Can only be charged with a misdemeanor or misdemeanors
- Must be a current or former member of the U.S. military
- May suffer from PTSD, substance abuse, sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury or mental health problems caused by their military service
- Must consent to military diversion, thereby waiving their rights to a speedy trial
- Cannot have previously gone through military diversion
Additionally, defendants with a previous conviction for domestic violence or a similar offense may be excluded from diversion. However, they may be able to pursue post-conviction relief through the Veteran’s Treatment Court.
Examples of military diversion
The process can be lengthy and intense, and some of the following conditions may apply depending upon the circumstances of the case:
- Twelve to 24 months of treatment
- A domestic violence protective order may in place for the duration of the program
- A 52-week Family Recovery Program or Domestic Violence Recovery Program
- First Conviction Program and MADD Impact Panel
- Random drug and alcohol testing
- Substance abuse counseling, therapy or treatment
- Written progress reports every 90 days
Criminal proceedings can resume against the defendant if the court determines their progress is unsatisfactory or they are not benefitting from the program.
Diversion can restore the promise of a better future
Working with an experienced San Diego defense attorney who used to prosecute these cases is advisable for military members accused of domestic violence. Diversion may be the best option allowing individuals who have faithfully served their country to recover from one mistake.
Diversion not only allows eligible defendants to avoid jail time and a criminal record, but it gives them the treatment and educational opportunities that can lead to a better relationship with their loved ones and brighter personal and professional opportunities.