Pre-Trial Diversion For Drug Crimes

If charged with a drug-related crime, it is natural to be concerned about the penalties and collateral consequences of a conviction. While the California criminal justice system is daunting, it does not always mean you will serve time.

Most cases are dismissed or reduced due to violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights and law enforcement procedural errors or resolved after plea bargain negotiations. And sometimes, you can keep your criminal record clean by engaging in a pretrial diversion treatment program. Once you complete your program in Santa Ana as a first offender, the arrest record is sealed, and you can truthfully state that you have never been charged with a crime. By retaining a skilled defense lawyer, give yourself the best chance of qualifying for the pretrial diversion program. The experienced legal team at Darwish Law can review the case circumstances to determine whether you are eligible and negotiate with the prosecutor for the most favorable terms and conditions.

Understanding Drug Diversion (PC 1000)

Under Penal Code section 1000, pre-trial diversion allows qualified defendants charged with less severe drug-related offenses to have the criminal charges dismissed once they complete drug education, treatment, and rehabilitation.

Before 2018, PC 1000 was referred to as deferred entry of judgment. The accused person was supposed to plead guilty to their criminal charge to qualify for the program. If the accused individual completed their drug rehabilitation and treatment program, their charge would be dismissed. However, if the accused did not meet their rehabilitation program conditions, they would be convicted of the drug crime charges.

As of 2018, DEJ became a pre-trial diversion treatment program. Defendants today do not plead guilty to qualified criminal charges and are allowed to engage in the pre-trial diversion program. Upon completing the diversion program, the judge will dismiss the charge. However, if the accused fails to finish the program, they will be convicted at a bench trial.

PC 1000 Eligibility Rules

To be qualified for PC 1000, the judge will consider the following factors:

  • The underlying crime
  • Your criminal record

Underlying Offense

There are numerous eligible drug crimes under PC 1000, including:

  • Possession of drugs (California Health and Safety Code Section 11350)
  • Possession of less than one ounce of cannabis (HS 11357)
  • Cultivation of bhang (HS 11358)
  • Possessing drug paraphernalia
  • Forging a prescription (HS 11368)
  • Drunk in public (PC 647(f))
  • Driving while in possession of cannabis (VC 23222(b))
  • Illegitimate cultivation of bhang (California Health and Safety Code 11358)

Qualified controlled substances include:

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Ketamine
  • Methamphetamines
  • Peyote
  • Hydrocodone
  • Ecstasy
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Codeine

Criminal Record

To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You do not have a previous drug-related conviction
  • The drug crime in question should be possession-related and not involve the selling of a drug
  • The offense should be neither violent nor contain a threat of violence
  • You do not have a previous California felony conviction within 5 (five) years of violating the underlying law
  • You have no prior probation or parole violation
  • You have not participated in a pre-trial diversion program in the last five years

How You be Referred to Your Pre-trial Diversion Program

The prosecution will first review your criminal case, and if you qualify for the diversion, the prosecution team will recommend it to you and the defense lawyer.

The notice of your potential qualification should include the following:

  • An account of the pre-trial diversion procedures
  • A description of the authorities and responsibilities of the program, probation officer, the court, and prosecutor
  • A statement communicating that you ought to plead not guilty to your alleged crime and waive your entitlement to a jury trial and speedy trial to obtain the pre-trial diversion
  • The statement that the court will dismiss the charges once you complete your treatment and have a positive recommendation from the program agency
  • A statement that the court can terminate the pre-trial diversion if you fail to complete the treatment violate a program condition or commit an offense that disqualifies you
  • A statement clarifying your rights on your criminal history retention and how you should answer any questions about your pre-trial diversion and arrest after completing the program

Then the judge should schedule a court hearing to decide whether you are eligible. You will also consent to the program at the hearing. Before deciding, the court can order a probation officer to explore the matter. The responsible probation officer can consider your:

  • Educational background
  • Family ties
  • Age
  • Previous drug abuse
  • Treatment history
  • Service and employment records
  • Demonstrable motivation

Anything you tell the probation officer during your probation department’s investigations is inadmissible to demonstrate your criminal charges. The court and probation officer will use these details to decide whether rehabilitation, treatment, or education will benefit you.

After the investigation, the probation officer should recommend to the court the program(s) they feel suits you best.

The judge will allow you to agree to participate in the diversion treatment program. You will plead not guilty to your criminal charge if you choose to engage.

Then the judge will dismiss the bail bond and allow you to engage in the treatment program.

During your treatment, the probation officer should regularly file progress reports. It helps the court monitor your continued qualification.

What Happens If You Do Not Want to Participate in the Diversion Program?

If you are not willing to partake in a drug pretrial diversion program or the court deems you inappropriate, the court proceedings in your criminal charges will continue. You will retain your entitlement to a jury trial.

How Pre-Trial Diversion Program Under PC 1000 Works

Typically, a California pretrial diversion program should:

  • Be county drug program administrator certified
  • Offer services freely to participants and considered reliable and effective by the court

Generally, the diversion program duration ranges from twelve to eighteen (18) months. Nonetheless, upon demonstrating sufficient grounds, the judge can extend the time to allow you to finish the diversion treatment program.

During Your Pre-trial Diversion Program, You Should Submit to the Drug Testing

A defendant participating in the drug diversion per PC 1000 should take a drug test by urinalysis.

However, the court will use the test results to determine whether you abide by the treatment program. Failing your test cannot be used as a basis for another criminal charge. The only penalty is the termination of the program.

Cost of Participating in the Pretrial Diversion Program

You should pay restitution fees. The fees cover the cost of pre-plea investigations and report or probation supervision. The court can also impose another fee alongside the administrative fee allowed or required by law.

Typically, the restitution fee amount should be between $100 and $1,000. The court determines the precise amount within its discretion, considering the following factors:

  • Your capacity to foot the required amount
  • The severity of the crime
  • The degree to which other people suffered a loss due to the offense

The fee cannot exceed the average cost of services offered to the accused person.

The least one-hundred-dollar charge will be required irrespective of your current capacity to pay. However, the judge can waive the fee imposed upon establishing extraordinary and compelling reasons.

You Could Require Narcotic Medication While Participating in the PC 1000 Pretrial Diversion

Individuals participating in the pre-trial diversion can use medications like buprenorphine or methadone to treat drug abuse health conditions under the recommendations of a certified health care expert.

Using substances in adherence to the treatment program regulation will not lead to termination of the program.

Termination of the Pretrial Diversion Program Before Completing Your Treatment

The court can terminate your participation in the diversion program if:

  • You failed to adhere to a condition of your program or acquire drug treatment
  • You are convicted of a California felony
  • You are found guilty of a criminal activity that shows violence

The prosecution, probation department, or judge can initiate a motion to terminate your involvement in the diversion. Then the judge will schedule a court hearing whose aim is to determine whether they should terminate the program. If the court finds you are performing unsatisfactorily in your treatment program, your original case will proceed.

What Happens After Completing Your Diversion Treatment Program

After completing the pretrial diversion, the court will consider your arrest record to have never taken place.

That means you can truthfully respond to questions about your criminal history and that you have never been detained or participated in a pretrial treatment diversion for a drug crime. However, there is an exception if you apply to be a law enforcer.

Will the Court Seal Your Arrest Records?

The judge can issue a court order to seal your arrest record under PC 851.92. However, this order does not prevent the criminal justice authority from accessing the sealed criminal records in adherence to applicable laws.

Also, completion of the diversion treatment program does not prevent agencies accountable for licensing medical practitioners from:

  • Denying license due to professional misconduct
  • Taking disciplinary action against licensees

Moreover, information about your participation in the pre-trial diversion can be revealed to authorities that license professions like therapists, nurses, and veterinarians.

Alternative to PC 1000 Pre-Trial Diversion

On top of PC 1000, California law offers alternative drug diversion treatment programs, like:

  • Mental health diversion
  • Military diversion
  • Drug court
  • Proposition 36

Your skilled defense advocate can assist you in determining which drug treatment program you qualify for and which suits your needs and case best.

Proposition 36

Proposition 36 is different from PC 1000. Here are the main differences:

  • PC 1000 applies to several drug-related offenses
  • To qualify for Proposition 36, the defendant must plead guilty before being placed on probation which comes with conditions. 
  • Upon completing PC 1000, the criminal charge against the accused is dismissed. On the contrary, when it comes to Prop. 36, the court decides whether to dismiss the criminal charge or not.

Penal Code section 1000 PC is a more favorable drug diversion program for defendants with choices.

Mental Health Diversion

Penal Code 1001.36 allows defendants suffering from certain mental health conditions to obtain treatment when charged with an offense.

Like PC 1000, the court will dismiss your criminal charges after completing the treatment. Additionally, the arrest record will be sealed, and it will be as if it did not occur.

The accused should be diagnosed with a condition highlighted in the recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to be eligible. Some of these conditions include:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizoaffective disorder

Please note that you do not qualify for the mental health diversion if you suffer from pedophilia, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder.

Military Diversion

Military diversion allows the judge to postpone all criminal proceedings for a misdemeanor crime. At the same time, the accused acquires treatment for mental health challenges like sexual trauma or PTSD, or substance abuse.

Upon completion of the program, your criminal charges will be dismissed.

Drug Court

Drug court is a drug diversion treatment program, identical to PC 1000 but for individuals with public defender legal representation. Once the defendant completes the program, the court will dismiss the underlying charges.

Typically, an agreement of the prosecution, public defender, and the judge refers the defendant to the California drug court.

The program has the following elements:

  • Rewards and graduated sanctions
  • Group and individual therapy
  • Urinalysis test corresponding with the defendant’s needs
  • Monitoring and supervising the program’s progress
  • Vocational counseling and educational
  • Complying with other requirements agreed by the DA (district attorney), public defender, and judge,  

If you are not qualified for California Penal Code Section 1000.5, you can still be eligible for PC 1000.

Los Angeles County Drug Court Program

The program offers treatment and rehabilitation instead of serving incarceration to a non-violent defendant suffering from a chronic substance use disorder.

Typically, the program works on an inquisitorial, collective basis among defense attorneys, probation departments, treatment providers in the community, judicial officers, and the prosecution team. The recovery and treatment services are tailored to the defendant’s treatment needs and the seriousness of the addiction.

Most graduates who complete their program are conviction-free for the five (5) years after graduation.

San Francisco Back on Track Treatment Program

San Francisco courts offer a drug diversion program called the “back on track.’’ The program is designed for defendants between 18 and 30 years charged with first-time non-violent low-level narcotic sales criminal charges.

The program is rigorous. A prospective participant should complete a screening phase that takes six weeks. The phase entails performing community service for at least 120 hours to prove dedication to the treatment program.

Upon completing the screening phase, the defendant will plead guilty to their criminal charge, and the court postpones their sentencing for a year. If the accused completes the program, their charges will be dismissed. However, if charged with another drug crime, the judge will terminate the participation and impose a sentence.

Typically, the program is designed to the defendant’s need and can include the following:

  • Enrolling in college
  • Stabilizing housing
  • Attending therapy or counseling
  • Acquiring a high school diploma
  • Securing employment

Why You Require Legal Representation

Judges and prosecutors in Santa Ana take drug crimes seriously. If charged and convicted, you will face the consequences like paying fines, serving time, facing stigma, and affected finances and should contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. The attorney will review your case circumstances and assist you in exploring various case options.

Your knowledgeable defense lawyer will provide you with a reality check, an objective perspective of your criminal case, and what will likely take place should your case proceed to trial. This perspective is particularly essential if you are trying to decide whether to consent to your participation in the pre-trial diversion program. 

Skilled lawyers are also good negotiators. They will negotiate deals with the prosecution, often formulating favorable conditions. Generally, terms tailored to the defendant’s specific needs help them avoid brushes with the criminal justice system and program termination. On the other hand, prosecutors can be uncooperative with self-represented individuals.

Moreover, your lawyer understands the hidden cost of agreeing to participate in the diversion program that you can never think about.

The lawyer will spend time on your criminal case that you cannot afford to spend. Usually, defendants who hire an attorney have jobs and lack the energy and time to commit to time-consuming activities like gathering evidence, speaking with witnesses, and conducting legal research.

Find a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

If charged with a drug-related offense in Santa Ana, you could be concerned about the effect of the criminal record on your future and life. Fortunately, a pretrial diversion can help you avoid prosecution. Suppose you agree to engage in the process. In that case, you give up your right to fight your criminal case and consent to participate in alcohol and drug treatment, community service, and education. The rationale is that you and your community are better off if you take steps to improve yourself instead of serving time. The seasoned legal team at Darwish Law understands the importance of a clean criminal record and believes that everyone deserves a second chance. Consequently, we can look out for your best interests and guide you through the complicated criminal justice system. Please contact us at 714-887-4810 to book your no-obligation and initial confidential consultation.