In California it is possible to avoid going to jail for a simple drug possession case. Drug Diversion programs are an alternative to serving time for those who qualify. California Penal Code 1000 and Proposition 36 are two types of diversion programs which some defendants are eligible for.
California Penal Code 1000 (“PC 1000”), allows for defendants accused of possession of a controlled substance, if eligible, to enter a drug program rather than go to jail. This is also known as Deferred entry of Judgment (“DEJ”). The purpose behind these types of programs is to offer help to people who have a drug problem. The majority of people who are arrested for possession and drug sales are suffering from an addiction. While it is necessary to be held accountable for criminal actions, sending a drug addict to jail or prison typically will not deter the behavior in the future. However, committing to a drug program may make the difference between a one-time arrest for drugs and a lifetime of drug use.
These programs are time-consuming and strict for a reason. The defendant is expected to take the program seriously and commit completely with the goal of staying clean and sober. The ability of the defendant to stay in the program and complete it successfully will most definitely be an indication of their success in the future with sobriety. These types of programs should be looked at as an opportunity that not everyone has and looked at as a turning point in their future.
The following is a list of eligibility requirements for “PC 1000”: (1) The defendant should not have any prior offenses on his record involving controlled substances; (2) Defendant’s record should not reflect any revocation of probation or parole; (3) The offense defendant is currently being charged with must not involve violence; (4) The defendant should not have any felony convictions within five years of the current offense. If the defendant meets these requirements, the prosecution will make a determination of whether or not the program will be appropriate.
If the defendant decides to enter the program, he will plead guilty to the charge however, the sentencing will be delayed pending the successful completion of the program. If the defendant completes the program successfully, and stays out of trouble, the charges will be dismissed.
Proposition 36 is similar to PC 1000, however there are some differences. The eligibility requirements are much the same but unlike PC 1000, Prop. 36 may be available for someone with a prior violent felony conviction if: the defendant has been out of prison for at least five years with no felony or misdemeanor convictions involving violence for five years. Also unlike PC 1000, the defendant must plead guilty to the charge(s) and then be sentenced. Rather than going to jail, the judge can place the defendant on formal probation and require that a drug treatment program, lasting up to one year, be completed.
In addition to the drug treatment program, the judge may also require additional conditions of probation. Some of the additional conditions may include random drug tests, regular check-ins with a probation officer, court appearances requirements to pay treatment costs and other restrictions on the defendant’s lifestyle. Once the program is completed successfully, the conviction will be set aside and the charge(s) dismissed.
With both Prop 36 and PC 1000, if the defendant does not successfully complete the program, the sentence that would have been given or has been given, shall be enforced. Also, with both programs, a charge of possession for sales disqualifies a defendant from either program. For this reason, anyone being charged with a drug related offense should seek the advice and assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney who will explore the possibilities of having a possession for sale reduced to a simple possession in order to allow the defendant to enter one of the drug diversion programs discussed above.
If you would like to know more about Drug Diversion Programs or drug related offenses, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William M. Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008.