Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation authorizing a diversion program for military personnel or veterans who are accused of misdemeanors and are suffering from service-related trauma, substance abuse or mental health problems, Brown’s office said Saturday.
Senate Bill 1227, by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, would allow a court to dismiss criminal charges against a defendant if he or she completes a diversion program satisfactorily. A judge could reinstate criminal proceedings if a defendant fails to do so.
The bill was narrowed this year to apply only to misdemeanors, not felonies.
Existing law allows for post-plea probationary programs for veterans. According to a legislative analysis, Hancock argued pre-trial diversion programs would reduce court and incarceration costs and help veterans avoid consequences of a conviction, including difficulty finding employment or housing.
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The bill was one of 21 measures Brown announced signing Saturday related to veterans and military personnel.
The Democratic governor signed the bill without comment.