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Many times I have people call my office wanting information regarding Mental Health Diversion or Veterans Court.  There have been many changes in the past two year regarding these programs.  Below I will give a brief overview, not meant as particular legal advice, but as a general overview as to the different programs.


  1. Let’s start with the Mental Health Diversion program.  

The Mental Health Diversion program is a pre-plea program.  Meaning you do not have to enter into a plea agreement in order to complete the program.  This is a great advantage, because if you complete the program you will not have a conviction on your record.  The case was diverted from the Justice system before a plea was entered.  You can in most cases but not all say to your employer you were never convicted of a crime.

What are the requirements. ?

Another advantage to the Mental Health diversion program is that the program is for both Felony and Misdemeanor cases, with some exceptions.

you must be suffering from a diagnosed major mental illness which contributed to the current offense before the court.  You will have to file a motion or your Attorney can do for you and attach the paperwork proving this mental illness and file with the court, the court will then set a date for hearing as to suitability.

If accepted into the program, you will be given a court date in 97b courtroom assigned a treatment team, and required to cooperate in the treatment of your mental illness.  if you satisfactorily complete the program then your case will be dismissed even if a Felony.

2.  Veterans Court Program 

The veterans court program is similiar although not exactly the same as the Mental Health Diversion program.

If you are a Veteran with either ptsd or substance abuse issues related to your service which then contributed to your current offense then you may be eligible for Veterans Court.

How does the court work? you will be required to waive time

File the proper paperwork with the court after going to the VA to establish a treatment plan.  The court will make a determination of you eligibility and then you will be placed in the Veterans court program.  You will be required to enter a plea of guilty and then comply with the program.

What happens if I complete the program?

If you complete the program the outcome will depend on the nature of the charges.

If you entered into a plea of guilty to a Felony offense than your Felony case can be reduced to a Misdemeanor.

If you pled to a Misdemeanor case then the effect will be that the case will be dismissed through the applicable statute for that offense.  Usually 1203.4

What if I qualify for both programs?

Many people qualify for both programs and you should consult with an Attorney fo the best fit for your long term mental health and or sobriety.  Both programs are different and offer different advantages or disadvantages.

Although this is just an overview and the programs are more involved and this blog is not meant to substitute for legal advice about your specific situation.  If you have questions after reading this blog feel free to call us at 559 441 1418.  We have helped many clients in both situations to get through the programs and get there lives back on track.  And many people in these programs get there lives not only back on track but finally get the help they need from some of the problems.

So If you or your loved ones need help and have further questions about these program and how you can be helped dont hesitate to call.


Gerald Schwab, Jr.


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Law Office of Gerald Schwab, Jr.
Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney
5588 N Palm Ave,
Fresno, CA 93704 View Map
Phone: 559.441.1418