Non-violent drug charges are unique. The California court system sees drug offenders as both criminals and people in need of rehabilitation from their addiction or dependency on a substance. Unfortunately, many non-violent drug offenders cycle in and out of the criminal justice system, unable to find gainful employment and obtain quality and effective drug treatment. High rates of recidivism for drug offenders in California have prompted programs that seek to rehabilitate offenders from their problems with drugs, rather than simply punish them. These programs are often called drug diversion programs and are handle through special drug courts. Drug courts take the approach of collaborative justice and seek to rehabilitate people rather than simply punish them. They have been shown to be effective in dealing with issues such as domestic violence, teen crime and simple drug charges. These programs allow drug offenders to avoid or defer criminal convictions, pending successful rehabilitation. They reduce the burden on California's jails and prisons and do a better job at reducing recidivism than standard criminal punishments alone. These alternatives to being processing through the criminal court system involve supervision and traditional drug treatment. They can focus on substance abuse treatment and emphasize the effects drug use has on your life and your family. These programs are called Deferred entry of judgment, or DEJ, pre-plea or drug diversion programs. Offenders can be placed in these programs before they plead guilty to an offense, thus suspending the criminal justice proceedings. While suspended, the defendant completes a course of rehabilitation through a special drug treatment program. The conviction will be placed on hold until they successfully complete the program requirements, at which point the charge can be dismissed. Defendants in these programs don't get off easy, however. These programs sometimes last over a year and can involve intensive counseling in both a group and one-on-one environment; strict and frequent drug testing, a system of awards and sanctions and continuous interactions between the offender and the court system, such as assessment hearings and reports. There may also be an educational and/or employment requirement, which ensure the defendant, has the tools they need to be successful after rehabilitation. Much like with criminal prosecution, drug offenders in these programs participate are placed on probation and must abide the terms of this probation to be successful in the diversion program. Drug diversion programs will vary in their requirements and structure from county to county so contact your local collaborative court for details on their drug court program. These programs can make a big difference in the life of an offender. California employers cannot ask a potential employee about a recommendation to a drug diversion program and similarly cannot ask or use against you any arrests that did not end in a conviction. Upon successful completion of a drug diversion program, you will not have a conviction on your record and so your chances of employment aren't compromised. However, certain governmental employers may still be able to view your entry into one of these programs on your record, however going through on of these programs certainly looks better on paper than a regular drug charge. Keep in mind not all drug offenders will be eligible for these programs. Each case is decided upon based on your criminal history and the circumstances of the offense being deferred. Not all offenses will qualify. The program is designed to be most effective for simply drug possession charges that do not involved further criminal activity. Common charges that qualify for diversion programs are simply possession for personal use and/or transporting for personal use. Unfortunately, cultivation for personal use is not a qualifying offense under Prop-36. Offenses involving violence, firearms or those involving the sale or distribution of drugs are not qualifying.
Are you facing drug charges in Tulare, Kings or Fresno County? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for help in finding out if a drug diversion program is an option for you. Experienced in drug charge defense, Mr. Martens has worked exclusively as a criminal defense attorney or 10 years and will go the distance for your case and your rights. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.