When our client was 18 years old, in 2012, he joined the U.S. Army and went through basic training. He was trained to become a power generator equipment repairman. After six months in the Army, however, he was released due to a drug incident. He had been caught using heroin. He never deployed and he was honorably discharged.
While in the Army, he was awarded the National Defense Service medal and the Army Service ribbon.
While our client left the military, his heroin addiction stayed with him, leading him to steal and commit more crimes to fund his addiction. He even stole jewelry from his grandmother – and was arrested, charged with and convicted of felony elder abuse (Penal Code § 368(e)). He was arrested, charged and convicted of tampering with a vehicle (Vehicle Code § 10852) and, in a further incident, DUI based on drugs (Vehicle Code § 23152(f)). He also was arrested, charged and convicted of sales of a controlled substance (heroin) under California Health & Safety Code § 11351. Greg Hill & Associates represented the client in several of these cases.
The client then got a steady job and seemed to have overcome his heroin addiction. Then one day in 2022, the client, now age 29, called our office and explained he had been arrested again for DUI based on drugs, with a car accident and a hit and run involved as well. This event took place in Long Beach.
Greg discussed the case facts with the client and explained that military diversion, while available since 2016, was once thought of as inapplicable to DUI, but had been re-interpreted by our courts to apply to DUI. See Hopkins v. Superior Court (2d. App. Ct., 2016) 2 Cal. App. 5th 1275 and Andrew Wade v. Superior Court (6th App. Dist., 2019) 33 Cal.App.5th 694.
Greg, a veteran himself (USMC), explained that under Penal Code § 1001.80, the client could ask the judge to “divert” the criminal case, suspending proceedings, to allow the client to get the drug treatment he needed, once and for all, because California wanted to give veterans the chance to overcome disabilities, including drug addiction, that were acquired during service to our county.
Consequently, California created military diversion to afford such veterans diversion when resolving criminal matters that may have been caused or related to such a service-related disability. The program was most commonly associated with PTSD and other mental conditions that were service-related, but included substance abuse.
The client explained that his DUI involved him lightly rear-ending another car on Pacific Coast Highway during rush hour and then trying to pull over to a nearby parking lot. The other driver did not pull into the parking lot, but left, so our client also continued on toward home, only to be stopped by police. Our client explained that he was also cited for driving without an ignition interlock device (IID), a violation of Vehicle Code § 23247, and driving with a license suspended due to a DUI, a violation of Vehicle Code § 14601.2.
Our client also shared that he had a second case, also for driving on a suspended license due to a DUI (his first DUI, about five years earlier), that was in bench warrant status.
Greg then appeared in the Long Beach courthouse for the arraignment on the second-time DUI and had the bench warrant in the second case recalled. Greg then had both cases scheduled for the same dates moving forward.
Greg explained to the judge that our client intended to file a motion for military diversion, as the client was a veteran.
Greg then contacted the Long Beach VA, which explained that our client was ineligible for treatment at the VA because he never deployed and only served six months of active duty. Greg had never heard of this happening before.
Nonetheless, Greg filed the motion for military diversion, noting for the judge that treatment at a VA facility was not required by the statute (although it would be common or expected in Long Beach with a VA nearby).
The judge struggled with the motion and the Long Beach City Prosecutor opposed the motion, arguing that our client needed to show a “nexus” between the crime and the service-related disability.
Greg explained to the judge that the statute does not require this showing, but regardless, the crime of driving under the influence of drugs (our client’s blood was positive for benzodiazepine) certainly showed such a connection.
The judge ultimately granted the motion, ordering our client to enroll in and complete the SB 38 eighteen month alcohol awareness program and attend 52 AA meetings. By getting military diversion, there was no jail (our client faced at least 96 hours for a second-time DUI, plus two ten-day periods for the 14601.2 violations) and no court fines, which our client greatly appreciated.
The client was very happy with the outcome.
For more information about the issues involved in this case summary, please click on the following articles: