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Orange County Bar Association

Court Misdemeanor Diversion [Penal Code Section 1001.95]

I had experienced mental health issues throughout my life but I was generally able to control them. Then, in 2018 I had a psychotic break that caused me to pick up 4 different misdemeanor cases over two different counties. My charges were similar across the cases and included: Evading a Peace Officer (Penal Code Section 2800.1(a); Resisting and Deterring an Executive Officer (Penal Code Section 69); Resist and Obstruct Officer (Penal Code Section 148(a)(1) [Four separate counts]; Telephone 911 Emergency Line to Annoy and Harass (Penal Code Section 653x(a); Endangering Animal by leaving it in Unattended Vehicle (Penal Code Section 597.7(a). I was also charged with several other animal/pet violations and related violations of municipal code sections. I was looking at a total of 3 years in jail for the Orange County cases. Additionally, one of the cases had an allegation of driving under the influence (Vehicle Code Section 23152(a); I initially had the public defender on these cases and they tried to get me the mental health diversion program (Penal Code Section 1001.36) but it was denied. I then hired Attorney Will Bruzzo to represent me. Mr. Bruzzo decided to proceed under another program called Court Diversion (Penal Code Section 1001.95) which still used my mental health as a reason but is less strict. The problem is that the Drunk Driving allegation made me ineligible for the program. Mr. Bruzzo told me the drunk driving charge was weak and with his advice we set it for trial. While the trial was in progress, he met with a supervising Deputy District Attorney who agreed to dismiss that charge which made me eligible for the program. Mr. Bruzzo then argued to have me admitted to the program. Despite the District Attorney being opposed to my getting the program and the Judge initially being hesitant to let me in the program because I was using my vehicle to evade the police on the road, the Judge finally GRANTED the Petition... Dated: March 22, 2022


I was charged with Petty Theft (Penal Code Sections 484(a)-488). At the time it was my third petty theft/Shoplifting case. I had previously been charged with other theft cases under Penal Code Sections 484(a)-488 and Penal Code Section 459.5(a), but I had got them dismissed. I hired Attorney Will Bruzzo to represent me as he is very experienced in these matters and he was referred to me by another lawyer. He managed to get a deal where I took a Shoplifting course and then the case would be dropped. Unfortunately, while that was pending, I was cited again for Petty Theft (Penal Code Sections 484(a)-488). This would have been my 5th lifetime case. To make matters worse, I work in a vocation that requires a license and that license was now imperiled. The Judge on the case offered me 60-90 days in jail in addition to the convictions. While I was taking the shoplifting course, I was meeting with a Psychologist and issues came up showing that I had a mental illness relating in part to various traumatic events in my life. Some of the mental illness was also organic to me. As such, Mr. Bruzzo decided to take advantage of a new law called Mental Health Diversion (Penal Code Section 1001.36) wherein if a link is established between the criminal conduct and a mental illness, the criminal proceedings can be suspended and the case is dismissed after 12-24 months of treatment and no new law violations. Mr. Bruzzo filed to qualify me for this program but we were initially denied because I was not present in the country which was due to job obligations and in part to COVID issues. Mr. Bruzzo refiled after correcting those issues but the court again denied it. Afterward, Mr. Bruzzo advised me of yet another recently enacted diversion program called ‘Court Diversion’ under Penal Code Section 1001.95, which permits the court to suspend criminal proceedings for 12-24 months, during which time the Defendant does treatment and then the court dismisses the charges...Date: May 19, 2021


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