California Penal Code
The Legislature hereby finds and declares: (a) Over the last 10 years, criminal case filings, including misdemeanor filings, have been increasing faster than any other type of filing in California's courts. Between 1981 and 1991, nontraffic misdemeanor and infraction filings in municipal and justice courts increased by 35 percent.
(b) These misdemeanor cases add to the workload which is now straining the California court system. In addition, many of these cases are ill-suited to complete resolution through the criminal justice system because they involve underlying disputes which may result in continuing conflict and criminal conduct within the community.
(c) Many victims of misdemeanor criminal conduct feel excluded from the criminal justice process. Although they were the direct victims of the offenders' criminal conduct, the process does not currently provide them with a direct role in holding the offender accountable for this conduct.
(d) Community conflict resolution programs utilizing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes such as mediation and arbitration have been effectively used in California and elsewhere to resolve conflicts involving conduct that could be charged as a misdemeanor. These programs can assist in reducing the number of cases burdening the court system. By utilizing ADR processes, these programs also provide an opportunity for direct participation by the victims of the conduct, thereby increasing victims' satisfaction with the criminal justice process. In addition, by bringing the parties together, these programs may reduce conflict within the community by facilitating the settlement of disputes which are causing repeated misdemeanor criminal conduct and may increase compliance with restitution agreements by encouraging the offender to accept personal responsibility.
(e) As of the effective date of this section, the San Francisco and Contra Costa district attorney offices refer between 1,000 and 1,500 cases per year involving conduct which could be charged as a misdemeanor to California Community Dispute Services, which provides ADR services. Between 70 and 75 percent of these cases are successfully resolved through the ADR process, and the rate of compliance with the agreements reached is between 80 and 93 percent.
(f) The State of New York has developed a substantial statewide alternative dispute resolution program in which 65 percent of the cases using the services are of a criminal nature. These cases are referred to arbitration, conciliation, and mediation. Of the criminal misdemeanor cases that were mediated, 82 percent reached an agreement through the mediation process.
(g) It is in the public interest for community dispute resolution programs to be established to provide ADR services in cases involving conduct which could be charged as a misdemeanor and for district attorneys and courts to be authorized to refer cases to these programs.
The district attorney may establish a community conflict resolution program pursuant to this title to provide alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services, such as mediation, arbitration, or a combination of both mediation and arbitration (med-arb) in cases, including those brought by a city prosecutor, involving conduct which could be charged as a misdemeanor. The district attorney may contract with a private entity to provide these services and may establish minimum training requirements for the neutral persons conducting the ADR processes.
(a) The district attorney may refer cases involving conduct which could be charged as a misdemeanor to the community conflict resolution program. In determining whether to refer a case to the community conflict resolution program, the district attorney shall consider, but is not limited to considering, all of the following:
(1) The nature of the conduct in question.
(2) The nature of the relationship between the alleged victim and the person alleged to have committed the conduct.
(3) Whether referral to the community conflict resolution program is likely to help resolve underlying issues which are likely to result in additional conduct which could be the subject of criminal charges.
(b) No case where there has been a history of child abuse, sexual assault, or domestic violence, as that term is defined in Section 6211 of the Family Code, between the alleged victim and the person alleged to have committed the conduct, or where a protective order, as defined in Section 6218 of the Family Code, is in effect, shall be referred to the community conflict resolution program.
Both the alleged victim and the person alleged to have committed the conduct shall knowingly and voluntarily consent to participate in the ADR process conducted by the community conflict resolution program.
In a county in which the district attorney has established a community conflict resolution program, the superior court may, with the consent of the district attorney and the defendant, refer misdemeanor cases, including those brought by a city prosecutor, to that program. In determining whether to refer a case to the community conflict resolution program, the court shall consider, but is not limited to considering, all of the following:
(a) The factors listed in Section 14152.
(b) Any other referral criteria established by the district attorney for the program.
The court shall not refer any case to the community conflict resolution program which was previously referred to that program by the district attorney.
(a) If the alleged victim or the person alleged to have committed the conduct does not agree to participate in the community conflict resolution program or the case is not resolved through the ADR process provided by that program, the community conflict resolution program shall promptly refer the case back to the district attorney or to the court that made the referral for appropriate action.
(b) If the community conflict resolution program determines that a case referred to it prior to the filing of a complaint has been resolved through that referral, the program shall recommend to the district attorney that the case not be prosecuted.
(c) If a case referred to the community conflict resolution program after the filing of a complaint but prior to adjudication is resolved through that referral, the court may dismiss the action pursuant to Section 1378 or 1385.
It is the intent of the Legislature that neither this title nor any other provision of law be construed to preempt other precomplaint or pretrial diversion programs. It is also the intent of the Legislature that this title not preempt other posttrial diversion programs.