Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown signs bill authorizing pre-trial diversion for military personnel, vets

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.

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.