Are you facing a drug possession charge? If so, you need to be aware that California law authorizes alternatives to jail time for defendants arrested for non-violent drug possession offenses.
Not only can you potentially avoid going into custody, you may be eligible to have your record cleared of the conviction.
Drug Diversion Applies to Non-Violent Drug Possession Offenses
The term “non-violent drug possession offense” means the unlawful personal use, possession for personal use or transportation for personal use of any controlled substance. The term non-violent drug possession offense does not include the possession for sale, distribution or manufacturing of any controlled substance.
California drug diversion programs allow defendants charged with eligible drug possession offenses to be considered for what is called “alternative disposition” or “alternative sentencing” in their case.
Alternative Sentencing under California Drug Diversion Programs
There are three alternatives available to going to jail in California for non-violent (or simple) drug possession:
- Deferred Entry of Judgment (Penal Code Section 1000 or “PC 1000”);
- Proposition 36 (Penal Code Section 1210.1 or “Prop. 36”); and
- California Drug Court.
These programs are comprehensive and range in duration from 12 to 36 months. Each requires your regular attendance, payment of all required fees and compliance with mandatory drug testing. However, the benefit of successfully completing a drug diversion program is definitely worth your time.
Deferred Entry of Judgment (PC 1000)
Under California Penal Code Section 1000 (PC 1000), a defendant accused of possession or use of a controlled substance may be eligible for what is known as “Deferred Entry of Judgment.” In a Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ), you plead guilty, but the court does not enter the judgment. The conviction is never finalized and you are not sent to jail if you successfully complete the program.
The DEJ program lasts between 18 and 36 months. During this time, you must enroll in and complete a drug treatment program. If all requirements are satisfactorily performed and no new offenses have caused the court to revoke DEJ, your case will be dismissed without any conviction ever having been officially recorded.
If you fail to successfully complete the program, you cannot then plead not-guilty and go to trial. Your conviction becomes final, along with any jail sentence the judge may impose.
To be eligible for PC 1000, all of the following apply:
- You must not have prior offenses involving controlled substances on your record;
- The charges against you must not involve violence;
- Your record must not have any revocation of probation or parole;
- Your record must be free of any prior felony convictions for at least 5 years; and
- The prosecutor must agree that drug diversion is appropriate in your case.
Proposition 36 (PC 1210.1)
Proposition 36 (PC 1210.1 or “Prop. 36”) is another form of alternative sentencing available to certain drug offenders who are not eligible for Deferred Entry of Judgment under PC 1000. Like PC 1000, Prop. 36 requires you to first plead guilty to your drug charges.
Under Prop. 36, the judge must grant probation in lieu of jail time, with a condition that you complete a drug treatment program in addition to any other conditions of probation the judge orders. Probation is formal – which means you will be supervised by a county probation officer.
To be eligible for entry into Prop. 36, you must meet all of the following criteria:
- You have not served a prison sentence for a serious or violent felony (strike) within the previous five years;
- Your current charges do not result in a conviction for a non-drug use related misdemeanor or any other felony;
- You were not in possession of a firearm nor in possession of or under the influence of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine or phencyclidine (PCP) during the commission of your current offense;
- You do not refuse treatment; and
- You do not have two separate drug related convictions, have not participated in Prop 36 twice before, and have not been found by the court by clear and convincing evidence to be unamenable (unresponsive) to any and all forms of available drug treatment. In such cases, you shall be sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Unlike PC 1000, Prop. 36 is a 12-month program, with the possibility of being extended not more than twice for up to six months at a time. Prop. 36 tends to be much more demanding than PC 1000 because it allows the judge to set other conditions of probation beyond completion of a drug treatment program.
Additionally, Prop. 36 is an alternative to custody for state parolees who violate conditions of parole prohibiting them from using, possessing or having access to drugs, and/or failing a required anti-narcotic (drug) test (Penal Code Section 3063.1).
California Drug Court (PC 1000.5)
California Drug Court pursuant to Penal Code Section 1000.5 is another drug diversion program. Drug Courts are specially designed court calendars that provide an alternative to traditional criminal justice prosecution for non-violent drug-related offenses.
California Drug Courts are much less formal than traditional courts. They have greater autonomy over your participation unlike the more structured requirements of either PC 1000 or Prop. 36.
For example, California Drug Court does not require you to plead guilty to any offense in order to participate. Your criminal proceedings may be suspended while you complete the required programs.
In order to “graduate” from Drug Court, participants are required to:
- Obtain their high school diploma or a GED;
- Be gainfully employed or attending a training/academic program;
- Attend regular self-help meetings; and
- Have maintained consistent attendance at all court hearings, probation and counseling appointments.
Similar to PC 1000 and Prop. 36, successful completion of California Drug Court will result in a dismissal of any pending charges against you. However, if you do not comply with all of the requirements of drug court, your charges may be reinstated and you could face prosecution just like in traditional criminal court.
Wallin & Klarich Can Help You Avoid Jail Time in Your Drug Case
If you or someone you care about is facing a non-violent drug possession charge, you should contact an attorney at Wallin & Klarich today to find out what your options are. You may be able to avoid jail time if you are eligible for a California drug diversion program.
Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 40 years of experience successfully defending thousands of clients facing drug charges in Southern California. Hiring an attorney from Wallin & Klarich is your best chance to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide you with the very best legal representation. Getting you the best possible result in your case is our #1 priority.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.