The San Diego County Public Defender’s, together with private criminal defense lawyers and local veterans groups, is reportedly putting together a legislative proposal for the diversion of criminal cases for combat veterans. The Penal Code already provides for alternative sentencing for combat veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, or psychological problems stemming from “serving in a combat theatre in the United States Military.” The new proposal would go much further in allowing for the diversion of criminal charges for qualifying veterans in the same way that diversion operates for non-violent drug possession offenses. Typically, a diversion qualified drug defendant pleads guilty and sentencing is deferred while the defendant is ordered to complete a treatment program and stay out of trouble for at least 18 months. After successful diversion, the guilty plea is withdrawn and the “arrest is deemed never to have occurred.” Combat veterans who suffer from the above mentioned problems would be allowed diversion in a wide range of cases, from petty theft and burglary to domestic violence. The San Diego criminal justice system has accommodated Vietnam veterans subject to minor prosecutions in the annual Stand Down Court. Accommodating all combat veterans for a broader range of cases is the stated goal of the defense bar. To succeed, the proposal would likely need the support of Office of the District Attorney and law enforcement groups. Hopefully all parties can agree that diversion for combat veterans is in the interests of justice.
About Domenic Lombardo
Domenic J. Lombardo, Attorney at Law and a member of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ), graduated from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), earning a B.A. in Economics-Business, before graduating with his J.D. from University of California, Hastings School of Law. Mr. Lombardo has been practicing as a criminal defense lawyer in San Diego for nearly 30 years, having started at the San Diego Office of the Public Defender in 1991 and then opened the Law Office of Domenic J. Lombardo in early 1996 as a sole practitioner. His practice is dedicated entirely to the defense of individuals accused of crimes and university misconduct, including Title IX allegations. While Mr. Lombardo works as the primary attorney for all his cases, he does have a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and paralegals to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. When he is not working, Mr. Lombardo is a family man, triathlete, and world traveler.