Since our country was founded we, as a nation, have disagreed on which theory of justice should guide our criminal justice system. Should it be to punish? To rehabilitate? Or to serve as retribution? While it’s easy to want to see those who have harmed us suffer for their wrongdoing, one of society’s more noble goals is to try to help wrongdoers learn from their mistakes and better themselves.
Here in Sonoma County, the Community Accountability Diversion (or CAD) program, authorized under Penal Code 1000, offers first-time misdemeanor and felony narcotic offenders an alternative to traditional court proceedings. The program seeks to educate offenders, both on self-improvement and the community resources available to them that can help them overcome their addiction, directly or indirectly. Such resources include those related to employment, education, treatment and mental health. If an offender can successfully complete the program, the underlying criminal charges will be dismissed, helping keep the offender’s record clean, enabling them to move on with their lives.
Because of the tremendous upside—protecting a person’s record—the program requirements can often be strict, and the District Attorney’s Office must agree that a person is worthy of such leniency. Most of the time, to qualify a person needs to have an otherwise clean record for the last five years, and needs to have never previously failed to appear for a court date. Other disqualifiers can also include having been placed on probation previously, having a prior conviction for certain serious crimes, or having other pending charges at the time CAD is considered. Further, all CAD participants are required to submit to random drug testing. Depending on the nature of the participant’s addiction, the details of that person’s individualized treatment plan will vary, but may include community service and/or therapy sessions.
While the program understands that sometimes people backslide—and potentially allows for such errors—it has a strict two-strike policy: diversion will be terminated and the original charges will be reinstated.
Participants spend six months actively involved in the program, and then must wait an additional year before they can have the charges dismissed. During that year, they must avoid trouble with drugs and the law.
If you are facing criminal charges, feel that you qualify for CAD, and would like to learn more about the program requirements, a qualified defense attorney can help. Devina Douglas has years of experience negotiating resolutions for her clients which allow them to walk away from the criminal justice system without a criminal record. To contact Devina.
 Although the program is most often used when a person has been charged with a narcotics offense, it can also be used where an offender had been charged with misdemeanor: Vandalism, Trespass, Public Intoxication – Alcohol-related, Furnish a minor with alcohol, Consumption of Alcohol on Public Street, Public Urination , or Camping in an Undesignated Area.
 Such crimes include any felony, gang related crimes, physical abuse or neglect to minors, domestic violence and charges that involve abuse or neglect to an animal.
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