California drug laws are some of the toughest in the country. Stiff legal penalties and lifetime consequences accompany a conviction for a drug crime. Drug charges often range from simple drug possession to more serious offenses like drug trafficking and manufacturing controlled substances. When you or a loved one faces drug charges, a pretrial diversion is an opportunity you do not want to miss.
Under California Penal Code 1000, a pretrial diversion program allows defendants facing non-violent drug crimes to avoid jail time and other legal consequences of their conviction. Additionally, you can benefit from the program by undergoing treatment and rehabilitation from drug use.
Qualifying for enrollment in a pretrial diversion for your drug charges can be an uphill task. Therefore, hiring and retaining a reliable drug crime defense attorney is crucial. At Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we have extensive knowledge and understanding of drug laws in California. Our top-notch lawyers work hard to ensure that all our clients facing charges for a drug crime in Los Angeles, CA, obtain a favorable outcome in their case by negotiating good pleas and diversion programs.
Overview of Drug Crimes in California
The public perception of drugs has changed with California's legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. Since the change of laws, you could find yourself unconsciously facing criminal charges for simple acts that you thought were not illegal. Even after the legalization of marijuana, possession of the substance without authorization or distributing it could land you in legal trouble.
Prosecutors in California can charge you with felony or misdemeanor drug charges depending on your criminal history and the nature of the substance involved. Drug crimes become more serious when there are aggravating factors such as violence or the use of weapons when committing the crime. Drug crimes are charged under California Health and Safety Code. A conviction for a drug crime attracts severe legal consequences, including jail or prison time and hefty fines. Additionally, a conviction for these offenses remains in your criminal record that could have long-lasting effects on your personal and professional life.
Fortunately, defendants facing misdemeanor drug charges could evade their jail sentence and fines by entering a treatment program known as pretrial diversion. The pretrial diversion allows you to recover from drug addiction. Offering pretrial diversions is to reduce crowding the jails and help individuals addicted to drug use.
Understanding Pre-trial Diversion in California
California’s pre-trial diversion for drug crimes is addressed under Penal Code 1000 and is reserved for defendants who face simple drug possession charges. This pretrial diversion allows you to avoid a criminal record and disabilities associated with a drug crime conviction. Before 2017, Penal Code 1000 was commonly known as the deferred entry of judgment.
Under the old laws, the court required that you plead guilty to your underlying drug charge in exchange for an opportunity to participate in the drug treatment program. After completing the program, the court could dismiss the charges for which you pled guilty. However, failing to comply with all the program requirements meant you remained guilty of the crime.
The current laws on pretrial diversion are favorable towards drug crime defendants. If you meet the eligibility criteria for the program, you can enter a not-guilty plea and proceed to partake in the treatment program. The main difference between the old and new laws on PC 1000 is that with the current laws, failure to complete the diversion program does not cause an automatic guilty verdict. Instead, you will still have a right to a fair hearing to present a defense against the charges.
You must understand that entering the Pre-trial Diversion program means you forsake your rights to a hearing by a jury. However, you can still go through a bench trial where the judge determines the verdict on your case. Some of the controlled substances which are covered under this statute include:
- Prescription opioids
The main issue in pretrial diversion for drug crimes is not the nature of the drugs but the purpose of the drugs. You have a better chance of entering the diversion program if you possess a controlled substance for personal use instead of sale or distribution.
Eligibility Criteria for Pre-Trial Diversion Under Penal Code 1000
Not all defendants facing drug crime charges can benefit from a pretrial diversion program. The court requires you to meet the following requirements before consideration for the treatment program:
You are Charged with an Eligible offense
The offenses for which you are allowed to participate in the pretrial diversion program include the following:
- HSC 11350 - Simple possession of controlled substances
- HSC 11357 – Possession of drug paraphernalia
- HSC 11365 - Aiding the use of a controlled substance
- HSC 11375(b)(2) – Possession of prescription sedatives
- HSC 23222(b) – Possession f open containers of marijuana in a vehicle
- HSC 11550 – Being under the influence
- PC 647(F) – Lewd conduct resulting from being under drug influence
- PC 381 – Possession of toxic substances
- HSC 11368 – Use of a forged prescription to obtain a controlled substance
Whether or not you will benefit from the Diversion Program
When sending defendants to a pretrial diversion program, the judge ensures they will receive maximum benefits. If you have other mental problems, the prosecutor may recommend that you undergo a mental health diversion program. The court ascertains your fitness for the program by sending a probation officer to investigate your case.
Other requirements that apply to your eligibility for PC 1000 are:
- Your crime did not involve violence or threats
- You have not had a felony conviction in the last five years
- You have not been convicted for a drug-related offense within five years
- There are no simultaneous drug charges that accompany your underlying offense
How is PC 1000 Offered?
Not all defendants facing low-level drug crimes will benefit from the pre-trial diversion under PC 1000. There is a criterion on how the prosecutor can offer you this alternative. After your arrest for violating the Health and Safety Code laws, the police officers will assess your case to determine whether they will send it to the prosecution.
If the prosecutor preceding your case decides to pursue drug charges, they examine your case to determine our eligibility for the pre-trial diversion. You and your attorney will be notified if you meet the eligibility criteria. The written notification from the prosecution will include the following information:
- A description of the procedures for the pre-trial diversion
- A clear statement showing that you must plead not guilty to your charge and waive the right to a speedy trial before entering the program
- An explanation of the roles and authorities of different departments throughout the program
- Information that when you complete the program and receive positive recommendations from the probation department, the court will dismiss your charges.
- A clear explanation of your rights concerning criminal record retention and how you answer questions on your charges after completing the diversion program
- A statement that the court could terminate your diversion program for treatment failure or inability to comply with other requirements of the program
Probation Investigation for a Penal Code 1000 Pre-Trial Diversion
Before the court decides on your eligibility to enter the pre-trial diversion for your drug crimes, the judge could mandate a probation investigation for your case. The court appoints a probation officer who looks into different aspects of your life, including your age, employment status and history, educational background, and family history.
Additionally, the probation officer may look into your criminal history to determine if you have been enrolled in a past drug treatment program. This will help determine if the treatment and rehabilitation options in PC 1000 will benefit you. Lastly, your probation officer decides whether you are motivated to overcome your drug issues through the programs offered by the pretrial diversion.
You must answer different questions about yourself during your interactions with the probation officer. However, you must understand that any information you provide to the probation officer cannot be used against you for the underlying drug crime. The statements can only serve to prove or disprove that the treatment program will benefit you.
At the end of the probation investigation, the probation officer writes a report giving recommendations on the treatment that best suits your situation. However, the judge presiding over your case can determine the type of treatment you need to qualify for the pre-trial diversion.
How Does a Penal Code 1000 Pretrial Diversion Work?
A pretrial diversion must receive certification from the drug program administrator under California Penal Code 1211. Additionally, the program must be deemed effective by the county drug administrator or the court. Regardless of where you face the arrest and drug charges, you can request to be transferred to a country where the program meets the required criteria, If after the judge’s decision, you decide that you want to go through with the program, you will plead not guilty to your charges and waive your rights for:
- A speedy trial. If you face misdemeanor drug charges in California, you have a right to hear your case within 45 days of filing the charges or within 30 days of being in custody. If you decide to enter a pre-trial diversion, the court may need time to investigate your life and offense. Therefore, you cannot enjoy the right to a speedy trial.
- Trial by a Jury. In California criminal cases, a group of twelve members from the community is assembled to listen to the evidence on your issue and determine whether you are guilty of the charges. Every defendant facing misdemeanor or felony charges is entitled to a trial before a jury. Entering a PC 1,000 diversion program means you cannot be tried before the jury.
Pretrial diversion programs often take twelve to eighteen months. However, if you exhibit good behavior and a good cause through the program, the court may allow you more time to complete your drug treatment. During the pre-trial diversion program, the court mandates the administration of regular urine drug tests.
Often, these drug tests' results solely measure your compliance with the program. Failing the drug tests cannot be used to bring new criminal charges. However, you could suffer termination of your diversion program.
If you complete your pretrial diversion successfully, the arrest and charges for your drug crime are deemed to have never occurred. Therefore, if anyone asks about your criminal history, you can answer no to drug crime arrests and charges. The only exception to disclosing this fact is when you apply for a job as a law enforcement officer.
Termination of your Pretrial Diversion before Completion of Treatment
Although a pretrial diversion is aimed at treatment and rehabilitation, the court may prematurely terminate your participation in the program under the following circumstances:
- Failure to comply with the conditions of the program
- You face a felony conviction while undergoing the program
- You face a conviction for a crime that involves extreme violence
The judge, probation officer, or prosecutor can intimate a motion to terminate your participation. When the action is filed, the court holds a hearing where the judge decides whether your performance is satisfactory. If the judge decides to terminate your participation in the treatment program, your drug crime case will move forward.
Frequently Asked Questions of Pre-trial Diversion for Drug Crimes in California
You could benefit significantly from a diversion program if you face an arrest and charges for a drug crime. However, if it is your first offense, you may have many questions about how you can enter the program and the benefits you can accrue from it. The following are commonly asked questions on California Penal Code 1,000:
Do I need to pay for my participation in the drug diversion program?
In California, the court mandates that individuals participating in the pretrial diversion pay restitution fees for the program. The court uses the fee you pay to cover probation supervision costs or plea investigations that are used to determine your eligibility for the program. The cost of pre-trial diversion restitution varies between $100 to $1,000. Some of the factors that the court could consider when determining the exact amount you must pay for the program include the following:
- Your ability to cover the cost. Your employment and financial situation determine this.
- The severity of your drug charges
- The extent of suffering you cause to another person
Although each person entering the diversion program must pay at least $100, a skilled attorney may help you negotiate for an exception.
Can I choose my drug treatment program?
When you agree to enter a drug diversion program, you can ask to be referred to a treatment program of your choice. However, the prom you choose must meet the requirements for certification by the county or county drug program administrators.
What happens if I do not consent to participate in the program?
Even when you meet the eligibility criteria for a PC 1000 pre-trial Diversion, participating in the program is an option. If you don’t want to participate or the court determines that the treatment program is unsuitable, your criminal court proceedings for the drug crime will continue. Your rights to a speedy trial and trial before the jury are also preserved.
What happens if I need treatment using a narcotic while in a drug treatment program?
If you are in a drug treatment program for pre-trial diversion, you can use medications containing controlled substances. Substances like buprenorphine and methadone are only legal when used under the direction of a licensed health practitioner. Use of these substances, in this case, cannot be used as a basis to terminate your participation in the pretrial diversion.
Will the court seal my arrest after completing the pretrial diversion?
Sometimes, the court issues an order to seal your arrest records when you complete your PC 1000 pretrial diversion. However, you must understand that the sealing of this record won’t affect the ability of criminal justice agencies to access the documents. Additionally, completing your diversion program will not prohibit professional agencies from taking disciplinary actions against you. The licensing board may be allowed to access the record if you seek a license to practice as a nurse, veterinarian, or therapist.
Alternative Drug Diversion Programs in California
In addition to the pre-trial diversion under PC 1000, there are other diversion programs that you could explore for your drug crime instead of spending time in prison, including:
California Proposition 36
Prop 36 is a drug diversion program that you can undertake instead of sending time in jail for your low-level drug crime. Although Prop 36 is almost similar to the pretrial diversion, there are significant differences between the two, including:
- Your drug charges are dismissed when you complete your pretrial diversion under PC 1000.
- With the pretrial diversion, you can undergo the program after an arrest for the cultivation of marijuana. On the other hand, Prop 36 does not admit defendants facing marijuana cultivation charges.
- Prop 36 is only reserved for individuals facing low-level misdemeanor offenses, while the pretrial diversion can admit defendants facing felony drug charges.
Like the pretrial diversion, there is a list of drug offenses that could be admitted into this program. Even when your drug charges qualify for prop 36 treatment, some factors could disqualify you from prop 36 eligibility, and they include:
- You have a strike on your record. If you have suffered a conviction for a severe or violent felony within five years of the drug crime, the court will not allow you to undergo this treatment program.
- You reject drug treatment as a probation condition
- You have participated in at least two Prop 36 programs
- You used a firearm or deadly weapon to commit the underlying drug crime.
California Drug Court
You could be eligible for drug court if you do not qualify for a pretrial diversion. One of the main differences between pretrial diversion and drug court is that drug court is only available for defendants represented by a public defender. Defendants who are eligible for drug court treatment must meet the following requirements:
- Plan regular meetings with a court-appointed probation officer
- Attend school
- Participate in educational and vocational counseling
- Seek and maintain employment
- Satisfy other requirements that are beneficial to the case
- Submit to random drug testing
When you complete the drug court program, the judge will dismiss your drug charges and expunge the drug charge from your criminal record. Failure to comply with the requirements of the drug court could result in the termination of your treatment program.
A military diversion is a pretrial diversion that allows the judge to postpone case proceedings. At the same time, a defendant undergoes treatment for mental health problems, sexual trauma, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Military diversion is addressed under PC 1001.80 and is reserved for veterans or active duty military members. Instead of spending time in jail for their misdemeanor drug crimes, war veterans can undergo the treatment program and have their charges dismissed. While participating in this diversion program, the defendant must comply with the following requirements:
- Attend all court proceedings
- Attend treatment sessions
- Undergo counseling
- Have satisfactory progress reports from the agency administering the program
Find a skilled Drug Crime Defense Attorney Near Me.
Serious and life-altering consequences accompany drug charges. When you face an arrest and conviction for even the most minor offenses, like simple drug possession, it can be challenging to walk away without spending time behind bars and incurring hefty fines. Fortunately, California law allows low-level offenders to escape jail time by participating in a drug diversion program.
With a pretrial diversion, the court requires you to plead guilty to your drug charge, and the judge will then suspend your judgment as you undergo a treatment and counseling program. The treatment program is accompanied by one-year probation and criminal record sealing. In addition to saving you from jail time, the pretrial diversion allows you to evade the disabilities associated with a drug crime conviction.
At Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we will negotiate with the prosecutors to protect your rights and secure a good diversion program for your drug charges. If you or your loved one faces charges for a drug crime in Los Angeles, CA, you will need our legal expertise. Contact us at 424-333-0943.