Diversion and Alternatives to Incarceration Program (formerly CAP)

Criminal defendants may be eligible for Diversion or the Alternatives To Incarceration Program (ATIP). Diversion, which can occur pre or post plea, is offered at the discretion of the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO). ATIP may be considered by the Court after a defendant has entered a guilty plea. A brief description of each program follows.


The USAO has had a Pretrial Diversion Program for many years. The USAO may offer Pretrial Diversion at any stage of the criminal justice process prior to sentencing, or the Pretrial Services Office (PSO) or defense counsel may refer candidates to the USAO for consideration. Pretrial Diversion does not require a guilty plea, but each participating defendant must agree to a Speedy Trial Act exclusion and may be required by the USAO to agree to a statement of facts supporting the underlying offense. Participants are supervised by the PSO for an agreed period of time, typically between six months to eighteen months. Upon successful completion of the program, as determined by the USAO, the USAO will take whatever action is set forth in the Pretrial Diversion Agreement, which typically includes dismissal of the charges. The USAO has also offered Post-Plea Diversion in the past, and may continue to do so when appropriate.

Aternatives To Incarceration Program (ATIP) (formerly CAP)

U.S. Courts video: Northern District ATIP and Reentry Programs

In cases not involving a diversion agreement, after the entry of a guilty plea the Court may defer sentencing for a period of time and refer the defendant to the PSO for evaluation of his or her suitability for ATIP. The PSO will provide a report and recommendation to the Court, and the parties will also have an opportunity to be heard. Defendants who are thereafter determined suitable for ATIP by the Court will be referred to the ATIP team (which includes a district judge, magistrate judge, PSO officer, clinician and federal defender) in the appropriate division. If the defendant is accepted, his or her case will be transferred for all purposes to the ATIP district judge in that division.

ATIP is a highly structured, rigorous program. It includes frequent contact with the PSO to monitor conduct and provide direction, advice and counseling; a curriculum for cognitive behavioral change; regular communication with family members, treatment providers and counselors; verification of and help in securing residence and employment; and frequent drug testing. In addition, the ATIP team meets with program participants twice each month. By providing defendants with this framework of supervision and services, the program seeks to help defendants learn from their mistakes, make better choices, engage in productive behavior, and reduce the risk of recidivism.

The collaborative process of supervision provides a greater level of enforcement and support from the judge who will eventually sentence the defendant and, at the same time, educates the judge and team members on the personal factors that affect the particular defendant. If a defendant is placed on probation or supervised release, the Probation Office provides a seamless transition to supervision by an officer familiar with the ATIP and the particular defendant.

In 2020, the Court renamed the Convictions Alternatives Program (CAP) to reflect that the USAO withdrew from CAP and so a participant’s successful completion of the program will rarely, if ever, result in dismissal of his or her case.

Please refer to ATIP FAQs for further information about the program.

Read statistics concerning participants’ completion of CAP/ATIP

Judges participating in ATIP

District Judges Edward J. Davila, Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. and William H. Orrick III
Magistrate Judges Jacqueline S. Corley, Nathanael Cousins, and Kandis Westmore

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