A routine traffic stop could result in criminal charges if police discover a controlled substance—whether it's cocaine or prescribed medication without a valid prescription—in your car. While getting your charges dismissed is the best way to avoid spending time in jail, it may be possible to enter a drug diversion program instead.
Under California Penal Code Section 1000, a defendant facing conviction for drug possession may be eligible for the Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ) program and avoid a jail sentence. In order to be eligible, this current possession charge should be a first-time offense, the crime didn't involve violence, and you haven't had any other drug offenses, felony convictions, or revocation of parole or probation on your criminal record.
If the prosecution determines a defendant is qualified for the drug diversion program, he/she must plead guilty to the possession charge. Keep in mind, the defendant won't be sentenced pending the completion of the treatment program.
The 18-month program consists of a series of drug treatment classes. If a defendant finishes the program and avoids another criminal offense, the charge will be dismissed. By contrast, if he/she fails to complete the program, the defendant will finish the remainder of their sentence in jail.
Another drug diversion program available to is Proposition 36. Similar to the DEJ Program, it only applies to first-time and non-violent offenders of drug possession. However, a defendant with a violent felony conviction can be eligible for Prop. 36 if he/she has been out of prison for at least five years without a felony or misdemeanor conviction involving violence.
When a defendant pleads guilty, the judge will place him/her on probation—instead of jail—and require the defendant to complete a one-year drug treatment program. Additionally, the judge can set various conditions for probation, including random drug tests, routine check-ins with a probation officer, and other restrictions. Once the program is complete, the defendant's charges will be dismissed, while failure to comply with any of the conditions of probation could result in jail time.
If you have been charged with drug possession in Ventura County, Wilfert Law P.C. understands how drug diversion programs are a great alternative to other penalties associated with the crime. Our Ventura criminal defense lawyer can guide you through the steps of a diversion program and help you obtain the most favorable outcome.
Contact us and schedule a free consultation for more information today.