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Drug Diversion Programs in California

Many drug offenses in California are treated differently than other crimes. If someone is caught with a small amount of drugs in their possession, it does not make sense to throw them in jail. The justice system should not spend all of the time, money, and effort on minor drug crimes. Especially when it is an individual's first run-in with the law, a criminal conviction can penalize them for life.

California has provided a drug diversion program to allow first-time offenders to avoid a criminal record if they successfully complete the program requirements. California Penal Code 1000 is a pretrial diversion program for individuals charged with certain non-violent drug crimes. Talk to your experienced East Bay criminal defense attorney to understand your options and how you can avoid a criminal record.

California's Drug Diversion Program Under Penal Code 1000

Under California Penal Code 1000, certain drug crimes are eligible for pretrial diversion. This means that the defendant's criminal charges will be stayed while they go through the drug treatment and education program. After successfully completing the requirements and conditions of the drug deferral program, the defendant can have the drug charges dropped.

Before January 1, 2018, PC 1000 diversions were a deferred entry of judgment (DEJ) option. This meant that before the defendant could begin the program, he or she will have to plead guilty to the charges. The judge would postpone the trial for a certain period of time while the defendant completed the drug treatment program. However, if the defendant failed to complete the program or violates the terms of the program, he or she would be found drug charge and sentenced without a trial.

Since 2018, the defendant can still be eligible for pretrial diversion and plead “not guilty,” to the criminal drug charges. However, the defendant has to waive their rights to a jury trial in order to get pretrial diversion. If the defendant fails the drug treatment program, he or she could still have the chance to challenge their drug charges in a bench trial before a judge.

Who is Eligible for California PC 1000 Pretrial Diversion?

Only certain drug offenses are eligible for pretrial diversion under PC 1000. This generally includes non-violent, low-level drug offenses, primarily drug possession. This includes:

The types of drugs involved can include most controlled substances, including cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamines, or prescription pain pills. However, the drugs generally have to be of limited quantity or for personal use. Generally, possession with the intent to distribute or drug trafficking charges is not eligible for pretrial diversion under PC 1000.

To be eligible, a defendant cannot have a prior drug conviction or felony conviction within the past 5 years. The drug offense also cannot involve violence or threat of violence. Eligibility may also depend on whether the defendant may benefit from drug treatment and education.

Drug Education and Treatment Program in California

If the prosecutor determines the defendant may be eligible for pretrial drug diversion and the defendant is interested in pretrial diversion, the court may hold a hearing to determine eligibility. Together with the probation department, the court will make a decision about the type of drug treatment, education, and rehabilitation for the defendant.

Eligible drug treatment programs must be certified by the county drug program administrator. The defendant can generally choose any qualifying drug program in the county. The defendant is also required to pay a diversion restitution fee to cover the costs of the program and services. Generally, the diversion restitution fee will be between $100 and $1,000.

The pretrial drug diversion program under PC 1000 generally lasts from 12 to 18 months. The defendant will generally be required to submit to drug testing during the program duration. In some cases, a participant can use prescribed medication as part of their drug treatment, including medications like methadone or buprenorphine.

After Completing the Drug Treatment Program

If the defendant successfully completes the pretrial diversion program, their charges will be dropped. This generally requires completing all the conditions of the drug treatment and education program for the length of the program. After completing the program, the arrest will be dropped from the individual's record.

This means that on a job application, the individual does not have to admit to any criminal arrest after the pretrial diversion program. Law enforcement and certain agencies may be the only ones that will be able to see the defendant's pretrial diversion arrest.

Failing the Drug Treatment Program

If the defendant fails to complete the pretrial diversion program, the defendant will have to face criminal charges. The court will hold a hearing to determine if a failure will terminate the defendant's participation in the pretrial diversion program. Failing to complete the program could involve:

  • Failing a drug test,
  • Failing to comply with drug treatment conditions,
  • Failing to go to treatment, or
  • A conviction for a felony or other violent crime.

If the defendant is terminated from the pretrial diversion program, the defendant could face a bench trial. As a term of being eligible for pretrial diversion, the defendant already waived their right to a jury trial and their right to a speedy trial. A bench trial before a judge will determine if the defendant is guilty of the criminal charges and how to sentence the defendant after a conviction.

East Bay Drug Diversion Attorney

Attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of criminal defense experience defending her clients facing criminal drug charges, including drug possession. She understands how to approach the individual facts of each case for the greatest chance of success. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Alameda or Contra Costa County, contact East Bay Criminal Defense Attorney Lynn Gorelick.

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