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VETERAN’S DIVERSION FOR MISDEMEANOR DUI CASES

Both the California Senate and Assembly passed a bill specifying that diversion applies to DUI cases for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. As of the date of this writing, the bill is on the California governor's desk for his expected signature.

This is great news for veterans who qualify. Previous to this legislation, veterans diversion existed with the specific exception of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases. Recent efforts have been made to allow veterans a method to avoid being convicted.

California Penal Code Section 1001.80 was enacted to assist both former and current members of the United States military who have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health problems, or substance abuse as a result of their service, and have been subsequently charged with a criminal offense. This statute is fairly new in that it went into effect on January 1, 2015. It specifies that in misdemeanor cases, the court may postpone prosecution while the defendant seeks treatment for a mental health disorder. It provides that when the defendant successfully completes that treatment and complies with the terms of diversion, the charges will be dismissed.

Recent arguments in favor of DUI cases being included point to the fact that P.C. 1001.80 does not express and limits on which crimes are eligible. Despite some governmental agencies opposing DUI cases being included, our office has been successful in arguing some veteran clients the opportunity to avoid convictions through this program.

Currently, a motion must be filed with the court and the facts argued before a judge. If the judge determines that a veteran qualifies, the veteran is put in a program. The program varies, but an example is a requirement to do 12-24 months through VA or military (i.e. outpatient, counseling, etc) as well as other court  requirements.  After successful completion, a motion is made to dismiss the matter.

It may not be enough simply to have served in the military, however. The new legislation should specify the specific requirements for qualifying for this diversion. Fortunately, this new legislation should open the door for many more veterans to benefit from diversion and avoid conviction.

David Welch

First and foremost, Attorney David Welch is an experienced litigator. With over two decades of experience handling hundreds of cases, he prides himself on his zealous representation of his clients. While most cases do not proceed to trial, his record of success enables him fearlessly advocate through negotiations or, if necessary, jury trial. Attorney Welch received his Bachelor's degree from San Diego State University and his Juris Doctor from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law located in San Diego, California. Since 1995, he has developed an extensive background in criminal law as well as in civil litigation. He has handled hundreds of misdemeanor and felony cases ranging from DUI and juvenile matters to domestic violence, white collar crimes, sex crimes and violent crimes. His clients have included professionals such as nurses, doctors, teachers, military personnel in all branches of the US Military. David A. Welch is licensed to practice law in the State of California as well as the United States District Court. He has established a strong presence throughout Southern California Courts. Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice: California State Bar, 1995 American Bar Association, 1995 California Courts (Includes California Superior, Appeals and Supreme Courts), 1995 U.S. District Court, 1996 Professional & Bar Association Memberships State Bar of California DUI Defense Lawyers Association National College of DUI Defense Member Since: 2008 Litigation Percentage 100% of Practice Devoted to Litigation Practice Areas DUI Defense Criminal Defense Manslaughter Hate Crimes Fraud Crimes Sex Crimes Stalking Weapons Charges Juvenile Crimes Misdemeanor and Felony Expungement Certificate of Rehabilitation Governor Pardons

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