Pretrial diversion is an arrangement wherein a defendant is given an opportunity to earn a dismissal or reduction of charges or punishment by completing a program (i.e. PC1000, Prop 36, a theft-prevention class, anger management classes, sexual compulsion course, etc.), performing some community service or doing something else in exchange for some decrease in his criminal exposure before entering a plea.
Court probation is quite different as it is imposed after one enters a plea. Probation is a form of judicial oversight wherein a person is allowed into the community instead of serving time in county jail or prison. However, probation can include a condition that one serve a period of time in county jail. Probation conditions often attach that are similar to those of pretrial diversion, i.e. classes, community service, a stay away order, etc., but such conditions are requirements that must be fulfilled for probation to remain in effect so that defendant can remain out of custody.
I hope this answered your questions. The two arrangements are similar, but do have fundamental differences.
Diversion is a pre-conviction opportunity to keep the conviction from appearing on your record provided one completes the terms / conditions of the program successfully. Probation is a post conviction program with similar terms and conditions. Good luck.
for Fairness / for Your Freedom because sometimes good people find themselves in unpleasant situations
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There are several kinds of pretrial diversion. Most are listed in the Penal Code at section 1000 et seq.
It is a program where a person avoids a conviction if he or she complies with the terms of the diversion for a certain period of time. If he or she does this then after the period of diversion the case is dismissed with no conviction on his or her record. For instance in a drug case the diversion terms may be to attend drug counseling for a period of time and stay out of trouble for a year or more. If the person does this then the case is dismissed.
There are informal diversion plans as well. This is when the DA agrees to continue a case for six months or longer to see if the defendant stays out of trouble. If he or she stays out of trouble the case is dismissed.
Generally there is no court probation for pretrial diversion because one is not on probation. But often it is probation that monitors the programs for pretrial diversion thus making it seem as though one is on probation.
There is a Prop. 36 program for drug offenders where one is on probation. This program is not pretrial diversion but is similar and sometimes confused with pretrial diversion. The difference is one is on probation. Under Prop 36 a defendant is actually convicted of the crime. The conviction will be dismissed if there is a successful completion, but dismissed with some strings. It is not as clean as a true pretrial diversion.
Every case is different. Specific facts of your case must be applied before relying on an answer to a general question. The answer given here is a general statement of the law on the issue that you presented in your question.