Pre-Trial Diversion For Drug Crimes

Upon an arrest for a drug charge, it could be stressful not knowing what your case could turn out to be. Although most drug crimes often carry severe penalties, including hefty fines and lengthy time behind bars, lawmakers acknowledge that not all defendants require incarceration for rehabilitation.

Not only is housing convicted offenders costly, but it also does not make sense to incarcerate a person who needs treatment to overcome a drug use addiction. Because of that, the court allows defendants under arrest for low-level drug charges to participate in a pretrial treatment program instead of going through the usual criminal justice system.

In the meantime, the alleged drug charge will remain on hold until your court-approved drug treatment program ends. Once you undergo and complete the pretrial diversion or treatment, the judge will drop your case and clear your arrest records. To know whether or not you are eligible for a pretrial diversion program, you should discuss your case with a qualified attorney.

Attorneys at Long Beach Criminal Attorney have helped several eligible defendants with drug charges to avoid jail time by participating in a drug diversion treatment, and we can help you too. Our attorneys will work tirelessly to help you achieve the best possible outcome on your alleged drug offense.

Understanding Drug Diversion Program Under Penal Code (PC) 1000

As mentioned above, a drug diversion treatment or program typically allows you to avoid incarceration by going through a drug treatment program when you run into trouble with the law on suspicion that you are a culprit in a non-violent drug offense.

Before 1st January 2018, this diversion was known as DEJ (Deferred Entry Judgment) because it could defer your sentencing until you complete the court-approved treatment program. To qualify for DEJ, you had to enter a guilty plea before commencing the treatment program. That means failure to complete this program successfully would result in a conviction.

Fortunately, under the revised statute (PC 1000), you do not have to choose a guilty plea before participating in a pretrial drug diversion if you are in police custody on suspicion that you are a culprit in a drug case. According to PC 1000, the court will not dismiss your case when you fail or refuse to complete or adhere to the conditions and terms of your treatment program.

Instead, the original drug charge will go through the usual court procedures when you refuse or fail to undergo your drug treatment program or violate its conditions. In that case, you should prepare to counter the alleged charge at trial for the best possible outcome.

Due to the uncertainty of a trial, a pretrial diversion program is an opportunity you cannot overlook if you or your loved one is under arrest for an alleged drug offense. If you decide to take a diversion program, the court will typically assign a treatment list unique to your case. This treatment list could include:

  • Alcohol treatment
  • Substance use treatment program
  • Probation
  • Victim restitution
  • Additional classes

Typically, the treatment the court will require you to participate in will depend on the unique facts of the alleged drug offense. Once you complete your drug treatment program successfully within the required period, the court will dismiss and seal your criminal record, meaning you can confidently say you have a clean criminal record.

Apart from the peace of mind, staying without a criminal record is very important to avoid losing job opportunities and a negative reputation in your community.

Drug Offenses That Can Resolve through a Pretrial a Diversion Program Under Penal Code 1000

Generally, not all drug crimes are eligible for diversion under PC 1000. To know whether or not your offense qualifies for diversion under this statute, you should speak with an attorney. Some of the drug offenses that would be eligible for a misdemeanor or diversion program under PC 1000 include (but are not limited to):

  • Illegal possession of marijuana
  • Possession of a controlled drug substance
  • Possession of toxic substances for “huffing”
  • Possession or use of fake or forged prescriptions to secure prescription drugs
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Unlawful cultivation of marijuana for personal use
  • Having an open bottle or container of marijuana in your vehicle
  • Possession of methamphetamine “meth” for personal use
  • Public intoxication

Typically, you could be eligible for a diversion program under PC 1000 as long as your alleged offense involves “simple possession” of illegal or controlled drug substances. If you had the intent to sell the illegal drug you had in your possession, you would be ineligible for a pretrial drug diversion program under PC 1000.

Other Eligibility Requirements for Drug Diversion Program Under PC 1000

In addition to the above prerequisites, you must also satisfy the following requirements to be eligible for a pretrial drug diversion or treatment program under PC 1000:

  • Your current alleged drug charge does not involve threats of violence or violence
  • You have not had a conviction for a felony offense in the past five (5) years
  • You have not had a conviction for a drug charge ineligible for diversion under PC 1000 in the past five (5) years
  • You did not commit any other simultaneous crime involving restricted drugs or narcotics
  • You have never had to participate in any drug diversion treatment in the past five (5) years

Having an attorney in your corner is the key if you want to stand a chance of achieving the best possible results on the alleged drug charge.

The Process of Obtaining a Pretrial Drug Diversion Program

Obtaining a pretrial drug diversion program after an arrest for a qualifying drug offense listed under PC 1000 is not automatic. When the police arrest you for an alleged drug crime, they will review your unique case before deciding whether or not the prosecutor should handle your case.

Once the prosecutor receives your case, he/she will review it to determine if it is eligible for drug diversion under PC 1000. Then, he/she will write a notice to you or your defense attorney if he/she finds that your alleged drug offense is eligible for diversion under PC 1000. The prosecutor’s written notice will have the following information:

  • Detailed information about pretrial drug diversion, including the required procedures
  • The powers or authority and responsibilities of the probation department, the prosecutor, the court, and the diversion program
  • The prerequisites for qualifying for a drug diversion program under PC 1000. For instance, you have to enter a “not guilty” plea and also waive your rights to a trial
  • Information about what could lead to termination of the treatment
  • A brief explanation of your constitutional rights throughout and after your drug treatment program is over. For instance, there will be information on your options when responding to questions concerning your criminal record once you finish the court-ordered drug diversion program

Probation Officer’s Investigation When Determining Your Eligibility for Diversion Under PC 1000

The notice you or your defense attorney will receive from the prosecutor will inform you that you are qualified for a drug diversion and not an offer to start the program instead of going through the usual court processes. That means you and your attorney must be ready for a court proceeding or hearing to convince the court that you are an excellent candidate for this pretrial drug diversion program.

Even if the prosecutor’s notice indicates that you are eligible for this program, the judge has the discretion to allow you to participate in this program or not. Before deciding whether or not you should participate in a drug diversion program, the court will order a probation officer to investigate your drug case.

Below is what the court-appointed probation officer will typically consider before making his/her decision:

  • Your academic history
  • Your employment or military service history
  • Your age
  • Your community and family ties
  • Whether or not you have a history of using unlawful or controlled drug substances
  • Whether or not you had treatment for drug use before and the results achieved
  • Any other mitigating issue or factor

During the investigation process, the officer could interview you before making his/her final decision on whether or not you should participate in a drug diversion program under PC 1000. Fortunately, your statements or words during the interviews or investigation are inadmissible in court.

Typically, the information the prosecutor will obtain is solely for determining whether you are an excellent candidate for a pretrial drug diversion program or not. After a thorough investigation, the officer will submit his/her report to the judge for the ultimate decision on your eligibility for a pretrial drug diversion program under PC 1000 and the appropriate treatment plan for your unique case.

Although the court could recommend a diversion treatment under PC 1000, you have a legal right to turn it down. When you do that, your case will resume, meaning it will pass through the usual court procedures to determine whether or not the allegations you are up against are true beyond a reasonable doubt.

Because the possible consequences you could face upon a conviction for a drug charge are severe and long-lasting, it is wise to take the drug diversion treatment ordered by the court if you are an eligible candidate. Depending on the facts of your case, this diversion program could last between twelve (12) months and eighteen  (18) months.

During the treatment period, the court could need you to abide by the following conditions:

  • Refrain from committing new crimes
  • Submit or consent to random drug tests by the probation officer
  • Check-in with the court-appointed probation officer regularly

If you have a substance abuse addiction, the court could allow you to take helpful narcotic medicine under the careful supervision of an accredited and licensed healthcare officer. Typically, the healthcare provider will ensure the amount of medication you take is enough to help you cope with possible withdrawal symptoms of a substance use addiction.

It is worth noting that to participate in a drug diversion program under PC 1000, you will pay some diversion restitution fees. Typically, this amount should not be less than $100 or more than $1,000. The exact amount you will pay will be determined by the court, considering the following factors:

  • Your ability to pay
  • Whether or not another person incurred a loss and the extent of the loss
  • The severity of the alleged offense

The primary purpose of this fee is to meet all the reasonable costs of pre-plea investigation or probation supervision. Sometimes, the court could waive this fee if your attorney provides evidence showing compelling or extraordinary reasons why you cannot pay.

To stand a chance of qualifying for a pretrial drug diversion treatment under PC 1000, you can never risk dealing with police and the prosecutor without an attorney in your corner. An experienced defense attorney will know the best arguments that could work to your advantage to convince the court that you deserve a second chance to fix your mistakes.

Other Related Pretrial Drug Diversion Programs You Can Consider

Apart from the drug diversion treatment codified under PC 1000, you could qualify for the following alternative pretrial drug diversion programs, including:

  • Drug court under PC 1000.5
  • Proposition (Prop) 36
  • Military diversion (if you are a veteran or an active-duty military officer)
  • Mental health diversion under PC 1001.36 (if you have a qualifying mental condition like bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Local drug court programs

You should not be hopeless if you are ineligible for a pretrial diversion program under PC 1000 for one reason or the other. A reliable attorney will keenly assess your case to know whether you could avoid a jail term by participating in any of the above-listed alternative pretrial diversion programs for drug charges.

Find a Long Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

We invite you to call attorneys at Long Beach Criminal Attorney at 562-308-7807 if you or someone you care about is in trouble with the law for any alleged drug charge. Do not hesitate to contact us if you want to enjoy the many benefits of undergoing a pretrial diversion program under PC 1000 to resolve the alleged drug charge.

Even if you are ineligible for a drug diversion program, our attorneys will stop at nothing until they achieve the best possible results on the alleged drug offense.