San Fernando Valley Criminal & DUI Defense Lawyers

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Pre-Plea Diversion

As of January 1, 2018, California courts are offering “pre-plea”diversion in some drug cases. The benefit of pre-plea diversion is that defendant’s are not actually convicted of the charges and can earn a complete dismissal down the road.

Prior to January of 1997, California offered diversion programs similar to the new law. After 1997, the law changed from “diversion” to “deferred entry of judgment”. The difference between the two is that diversion does not require a plea to be entered prior to accepting this as a settlement. This means that the defendant is never “convicted” of the crime. In the deferred entry of judgment (DEJ) case, the defendant is required to enter a guilty plea to take advantage of the program. The defendant is legally convicted of the charge or charges and then must ask the court to let him withdraw his plea and dismiss the case at the end of the program.

The problem with DEJ is that it has devastating effects on certain people. The federal government does not recognize diversion as a dismissal. They consider it a conviction. Hence, immigrants who take DEJ could face deportation, denial of naturalization or exclusion from re-entry into the country. People with certain licenses or security clearances could lose their jobs as a result of the conviction which results from a DEJ case.

By contrast, with pre-plea diversion, there is no conviction. The defendant must waive his right to a speedy trial for up to 2 years. After successfully completing a drug education program, paying certain fees to the court and obeying all laws, the case is ultimately dismissed against the defendant and he walks away with no conviction.

If you have been charged with a drug crime, please talk to a criminal defense lawyer about your rights. Pre-plea diversion may be an option for you. There are other choices too: Are you a veteran? Do you have any history of mental illness? Don’t plead guilty without talking to a skilled criminal defense lawyer.

Call me: Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-5700 or email me at: or visit my sites for more information: or