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California Proposition 36 - Drug Treatment Program Rather Than Jail Time

Criminal defense attorneys helping clients accused of a drug crime with an alternative sentencing program that allows eligible drug offenders to serve their time in a drug treatment program instead of in jail

California Proposition 36
California Prop 36 allows non-violent drug offenders to serve their time in a drug treatment program rather than jail.

The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000, more commonly referred to as California Proposition 36 or simply Prop 36, was passed by California voters in 2000.

Prop 36 mandates sentences of drug treatment, rather than jail or prison, for certain qualifying offenses and defendants.

While the concept of Prop 36, treatment rather than incarceration, is a simple one, it is often consuming whether a specific defendant or set of criminal charges is covered by Prop 36.

In simple terms, California Proposition 36 allows first and second time, simple, non-violent drug offenders the opportunity to seek treatment in drug rehabilitation rather than face incarceration. 

Accordingly, if you have been charged with a drug crime in Los Angeles County and would like to explore Prop 36 as an option, please contact the Los Angeles drug crime attorneys at Eisner Gorin LLP today.

Our criminal defense law firm can help you to assess the applicability of Prop 36 to your case, as well as advise you on any possible defenses you may have.

California Proposition 36 Eligibility

To be eligible for the alternative sentencing provisions of Prop 36, both the characteristics of the charged criminal offense and the characteristics of the individual defendant are critical. Prop 36 only applies to non-violent drug possession offenses.

The first term, non-violent, is fairly straightforward. The criminal charge faced by the defendant must not involve any allegation of violence of threatened violence.

Second, the offense must be drug-related. Any drug listed in the Federal Controlled Substances Act qualifies.

These include most street-level drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, etc.

Third, the offense must be for possession. This means that sales-related offenses, or even cultivation of marijuana, do not qualify for alternative sentencing. It should be noted that many marijuana related offenses may now be decriminalized altogether or subject to only infraction-level penalties following the passage of Proposition 64 by California voters in 2016.

Other common drug-related offenses which do not qualify under Prop 36 include:

  • Health and Safety Code 11352 (Transportation for Sale of Controlled Substances),
  • Health and Safety Code 11359 (Possession for Sale of Marijuana), and
  • Health and Safety Code 11370.1(a) (Possession of a Controlled Substance While Armed with a Firearm).

For more information, consult with a Los Angeles drug crime lawyer at our law firm.

California Prop 36 Eligibility Restrictions

Not all defendants charged with a qualifying nonviolent drug possession offense are eligible for alternative sentencing under Prop 36. One disqualifying event is simultaneous conviction for a non-drug-related misdemeanor or a felony.

For instance, if you are convicted of unlawfully possessing a firearm, a felony, in the same case as your otherwise qualifying nonviolent drug offense, Prop 36 will be inapplicable to your case.

This outcome is the same for all simultaneous felony convictions. If the simultaneous conviction is a misdemeanor, however, Prop 36 may still apply if the simultaneous misdemeanor relates to drug usage.

For example, a simultaneous conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia would not disqualify a defendant from Prop 36 alternative sentencing on their simple possession misdemeanor conviction.

If you have any questions about restrictions on eligibility, contact a Los Angeles drug crime defense attorney at our law office.

If a defendant has a prior “strike” conviction, which is a conviction for a violent or serious felony which counts for purposes of California's three-strikes law, they will not be eligible for Prop 36 if they were released from prison within the last 5 years or were convicted of a felony (other than a nonviolent drug offense) or a misdemeanor involving physical injury, or the threat thereof, within the last 5 years.

It should be noted that being armed with a dangerous weapon during the commission of the nonviolent drug possession related offense will always disqualify the defendant from Prop 36 alternative sentencing.  

Additionally, if you have been previously convicted of two or more nonviolent drug possession offenses and were sentenced under Prop 36 both times, the judge in your current case has discretion to deny you the benefit of Prop 36 sentencing if they believe you would not benefit from further drug treatment. 

As this summary demonstrates, the eligibility requirements for Prop 36 alternative sentencing are complex and require a thorough appraisal of both the current charges against you and your prior history.

You should consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our law firm who can assist you in determining whether your case qualifies under Prop 36.

California Proposition 36 Benefits

Assuming you meet all of the eligibility criteria, Prop 36 requires the court to sentence you to drug treatment as an alternative to jail or prison time.

The court will place you on probation and require you to attend an approved outpatient or residential treatment program for as short as 6 months, or as long as 18 months.

If you are successful in this treatment program, you may petition the court to set aside your conviction and dismiss the charges completely.

Accordingly, the major benefit of Prop 36 to defendants is the opportunity to earn a clean record by complying with the terms of the ordered drug treatment.

Call our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys for additional information about the benefits of this alternative sentencing program.

Consequences of Failing to Complete Prop 36 Program

Should you fail to complete the drug treatment program as ordered, or otherwise violate the terms of your probation by picking up a new criminal charge or failing to complete an affirmative obligation, the court may sanction you with time in county jail. On a first violation, the court may impose 48 hours of incarceration.

A second violation may incur up to 120 days of incarceration. 

In the event of a third violation, the court will likely declare the defendant ineligible for Prop 36 alternative sentencing, and incarcerate you up to the maximum allowed for the underlying criminal charge.

Other Alternative Sentencing Options

Keep in mind that, even if you are ineligible for Prop 36 alternative sentencing, there are still alternatives to jail or prison time for your drug-related offense in Los Angeles County.  

For example, Deferred Entry of Judgment under Penal Code 1000 may apply to your case. If the drug crime is marijuana-related, then the new provisions of Prop 64 may provide relief. We can determine whether you are eligible for a California drug court.

Consult with our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers today to determine what the best option is for your particular case, and with your particular history. 

Contact a Los Angeles Drug Crime Attorney

Choosing the right Los Angeles criminal lawyer for your drug case means finding a law firm with experience successfully defending drug offenses and who knows how the legal system works and available options.

We will provide you with the personal attention to your case that you will need for a chance at a successful legal defense.

When you call our office, we will thoroughly review your drug charges and the evidence against you.

Even if there is overwhelming evidence, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers can find a way to obtain the best possible outcome to your case.

We will guide you step-by-step throughout the legal court process. 

At Eisner Gorin LLP, we understand the uncertainty you face when accused of a drug crime. If you or a family member is faced with charges of a drug offense, call our law firm to speak with an experienced Los Angeles criminal attorney to examine the specific details as soon as possible. We offer a free immediate response.

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