Getting arrested and convicted for a misdemeanor crime in California can have devastating effects on a person’s future ability to get a job, get financial aid, qualify for a loan and nowadays may even get in the way of meeting your soul mate. That may soon change with the signing of a new statute that allows misdemeanants the ability to get diversion on first time offenses and keep the conviction off their record.
The new law proposes that provides that a judge in the superior court of a county that has established a misdemeanor diversion program may at his or her discretion and over the objection of a prosecuting attorney, offer misdemeanor diversion to a defendant according to the misdemeanor diversion program. Under current law the DA gets to decide exclusively whether a defendant gets the benefit of a dismissal of a first time crime.
According to Bruce Blythe, a Bakersfield Criminal Defense Attorney with 20 years experience, the current state of the law prevents most deserving people the opportunity to keep a criminal conviction from becoming part of their permanent record. The new law would give the ultimate decision whether to grant clemency to an offender to the Judge, not the District Attorney charged with prosecuting the offender in the first place.
This new statute would balance out the power to see that a good person who made a mistake can regain his or her dignity by showing sincerity through community service or other suitable punishment and in the end get their case dismissed.