Drug crimes in California have very serious consequences. Some of them are felonies that can lead to 3 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. For some lucky people, there is the potential to avoid prison altogether and even a felony record IF they complete a drug diversion program (as covered in Penal Code 1000). This program is available ONLY if the defendant meets certain eligibility requirements. Not everyone can get a drug diversion program. For the lucky ones who can, it’s a Godsend and a chance to both get help and rebuild a life free of a felony criminal record.
The important thing to remember is that if you complete the drug diversion program, your charges are dismissed and this means no felony drug conviction on your permanent record. For anyone who has a felony drug record, you know how difficult it makes things in the long-term.
To be accepted into this program, you must meet the following criteria:
1. You were arrested for simple possession of drugs (personal use only, not to sell)
2. You can’t have been convicted of a violent offense (as listed in PC 1000) OR an offense that required you to register as a sex offender.
3. You can’t have been convicted of another drug crime within the last 5 years
4. There can’t be any further evidence of a more serious crime (selling drugs)
5. No felony convictions in the past 5 years
If you meet all of this criteria, you’re in luck. You might qualify for the pretrial diversion law, and this will give people charged with low-level drug crimes the opportunity to have charges dismissed IF they finish their program with no further violations.
Some people are given a pretrial diversion and then pick up another charge, fail a series of drug tests, and have their opportunity revoked. If this happens, your original charges still stand and you are GUILTY. This is a wonderful opportunity to free yourself of a felony drug charge, and it’s vital that you do your best to complete the program. The consequences for failure are high. If your original sentence was 3 years, you would have to serve out that sentence and you would now have a felony on your record.
The court will look at many things when determining whether or not you’re a good fit for a drug diversion program. Some people are determined to have very little chance of successfully completing the program and so sometimes a sentence is better in order. When the court looks at your record, they’re going to look at these things and then determine whether or not you have a good chance of benefiting from a diversion program:
– Ties to the family and community
– Treatment history for mental illness and other disorders
– Motivation to complete the program (Some people just don’t want to do this program and would rather serve out time)
– Controlled substance use in the past
This is not an exhaustive list of all the things that the court might consider but it’s a good beginning. Your lawyer can work in conjunction with the prosecution to determine what is going to be best for you and the state of California. Some people have a very strong chance of completing this type of program and the prosecution is often very willing to work with these offenders to give them another chance to get their life right.
If you’ve been accused of an eligible drug crime and a pretrial diversion sounds like something you might have a good chance of benefiting from, a lawyer is the person that can make this happen for you. Your lawyer will work tirelessly on your behalf to show the prosecution and the judge just why you’re a good candidate for a diversion program, and they’ll also show them why you have a great chance of completing the program. In some cases, you can speak on your own behalf but it will be up to your lawyer as to whether or not it’s a good idea. If you are interested in this program, talk to your lawyer! They can help.
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