San Diego Community Justice Initiative (CJI) is a pre-plea program for offenders who commit low-level misdemeanors. It allows offenders to have their case dismissed by completing 16 hours of community service.
CJI provides swift consequences for individuals who commit low-level misdemeanors, but with the opportunity to have that criminal conviction quickly dismissed. Low-level misdemeanors that qualify include "quality of life" offenses that affect communities, such as petty theft, minor alcohol offenses, minor driving offenses, and minor vandalism offense.
Since 2014, participants have completed over 20,000 hours of community work service.
CJI is facilitated through the City Attorney's Community Justice Division. The NJU participates in problem-solving courts which use restorative justice principles to address quality-of-life crimes.
Note: Do not contact the City Attorney's Office about receiving a CJI offer for yourself or another. Offers are made only through defense counsel during court proceedings
Here's how the program works:
- The City Attorney's Office, upon reviewing a case, may elect to offer CJI to individuals charged with low-level misdemeanors. The offer is made during a defendant's first court appearance, usually arraignment.
- If the offer is accepted, the defendant pleads not guilty and is referred to a non-profit service provider to complete 16 hours of supervised community service within a set time period.
- Once all conditions are met, the case is dismissed by the City Attorney's Office. The participant does not have to return to court, and in most cases, the dismissal is handled administratively.
- Participants who fail to meet the conditions must return to court and their cases are subject to traditional criminal justice resolution.
This potential for early intervention and fresh direction in the lives of low-level misdemeanor offenders is one reason the City Attorney's Office is as inclusive as possible in making CJI offers.
However, the City Attorney’s Office retains discretion over who receives offers, and certain types of offenses -- including DUI, domestic violence, sex offenses, child and elder abuse, and arson - warrant automatic exclusion.
CJI’s goals include a reduction in recidivism, a reduction in courthouse crowding and costs by limiting the number of court hearings, a reduction in jail crowding and costs by lowering inmate levels, and reductions in law-enforcement costs by removing the need for police officers to testify.
As a result, our courts and jails will be able to focus resources on more serious crimes and the criminals who commit them, and our law-enforcement personnel are spending more time on the streets.
Upon successful completion and dismissal, defendants can request a sealing of arrest record pursuant to Penal Code Section 851.91. More information can be found here: Criminal Record Relief.