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Drug Diversion

Penal Code 1000 PC - Qualifying for a Drug Diversion Program in California  

Suppose you have been charged with a nonviolent drug-related offense in California and have no recent criminal history. In that case, you may be eligible to avoid conviction and a criminal record by qualifying for a drug diversion program under Penal Code 1000 PC. 

This program, designed as a form of pre-trial diversion, focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment by treating the root causes of substance abuse. When completed, the charges against you are dismissed, and your arrest record may be sealed. 

California Penal Code 1000 PC Drug Diversion Program
PC 1000 covers the pretrial diversion program for drug crimes, such as simple possession.

Simply put, PC 1000 covers California's pretrial diversion program for drug crimes involving simple possession for personal use. The program allows many non-violent drug offenders to receive treatment and education instead of jail time.

As noted, the charges are dismissed after completing drug diversion, leaving no criminal record for most purposes. Only those charged with drug possession for personal use are eligible for pretrial drug diversion.

Suppose you are charged with selling or transporting a controlled substance or possessing a controlled substance for sale defined under Health and Safety Code 11351 HS. In that case, you are generally not eligible for pretrial diversion.

Further, you must not have been convicted of an ineligible drug crime within the previous five years, the crime must not have involved violence or threatened violence, there must be no evidence of more serious drug crimes, and you must not have any felony convictions within the preceding five years.

California Penal Code 1000 PC is the state's pretrial diversion law. If you are arrested for low-level drug crimes and are eligible for PC 1000, you can plead not guilty and have your charges dismissed if you successfully complete drug treatment.

If you fail the program, you are not automatically guilty of the crime; you are still entitled to a jury trial or bench trial. Let's take a closer look below.

What is California's Drug Diversion Program?

The drug diversion program in California is designed to address the underlying issues that lead to drug-related offenses. Instead of proceeding through the conventional court process, eligible individuals are given the opportunity to complete an approved drug treatment program lasting 12-18 months

Once the program is completed, the charges are dismissed. This approach recognizes that treatment and support can be more effective than punitive measures for those struggling with substance abuse. 

It benefits you as a defendant because you can avoid a criminal record, and with the proper treatment, you have a reduced chance of recurrence. The state also benefits by reducing unnecessary overcrowding of the penal system over non-violent offenses.

Who is Eligible for a Drug Diversion Program?

Eligibility for the drug diversion program under Penal Code 1000 PC is specific and includes several criteria:

  • The offense must be non-violent (i.e., there must be no violent acts or threats of violence connected to it).
  • The charge should involve personal use or possession of drugs, not sale or distribution. Crimes involving the sale or transport of drugs are not eligible for diversion.
  • There must be no evidence of other, more serious drug offenses associated with the offense in question.
  • You must have no felony convictions within the last five years.
  • You must not have been convicted of other drug offenses that don't qualify for diversion within the last five years.

What Drug Offenses are Diversion-Eligible? 

Examples of offenses that may make an individual eligible for a drug diversion program include, but are not limited to:

  • Simple possession of a controlled substance (HSC 11350).
  • Being under the influence of a controlled substance (HSC 11550).
  • Possession of methamphetamines for personal use (HSC 11377).
  • Unlawful cultivation of Cannabis for personal use (HSC 11358).
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia (HSC 11364).
  • Aiding or abetting the use of an unlawful controlled substance (HSC 11365).
  • Unlawful possession of certain prescription sedatives (HSC 11375(b)(2)).
  • Having or using a forged prescription to obtain drugs unlawfully (HSC 11368).
  • Various cannabis-related offenses (e.g., unlawful possession or cultivation of cannabis, open cannabis container in a vehicle, etc.).

Some of the controlled substances covered under these laws include cocaine, heroin, GHB, ecstasy, ketamine, methamphetamines, marijuana, PCP, and prescription opioids such as codeine and hydrocodone (Vicodin).

How Do You Get Referred for Pre-Trial Diversion?

The prosecuting attorney in your case must initiate the process of qualifying you for a drug diversion program. The attorney will review your case and determine if you meet the eligibility criteria. 

You and your attorney will be notified of your potential eligibility if you do. From there, you will move through a series of steps, which include:

  • Written notification of potential eligibility from the prosecutor that will include a description of the procedures for pretrial diversion and an explanation of the roles and authorities of the probation department, prosecuting attorney, the program, and the court in the process.
  • A possible investigation by a probation officer (if the court orders) to confirm your eligibility.
  • You will officially plead not guilty to the charge and waive your right to a speedy trial
  • A pre-trial diversion hearing so the court can evaluate the circumstances of your case and
  • A final determination by the court on whether to allow you to participate in the drug diversion program.

Suppose you are deemed eligible and accepted into a drug diversion program. In that case, any bail requirements will be waived, you will be released from custody, and you'll be referred to a state-approved drug treatment program to carry out the conditions of your diversion.

What are the Conditions of a Diversionary Program?

Once accepted into the program, participants must adhere to specific conditions, which may include:

  • Completing your court-approved drug treatment program.
  • Regular drug testing to ensure compliance.
  • Attendance at all scheduled court appearances and treatment sessions.
  • Staying arrest-free during the diversion period.

Upon completing the drug diversion program, the charges against you are dismissed. This means you won't have a conviction for the offense, providing a fresh start. It's a significant incentive to fully engage with the treatment and comply with the program's requirements. Other diversion programs include the following:

Can the Drug Diversion Program Be Terminated? 

Your participation in the program may be terminated if any of the following occur:

  • You fail to attend or complete treatment as required by your program,
  • You are convicted of any felony offense during the diversion program,
  • You are convicted of any offense that shows a propensity for violence.

The district attorney, the judge, or the probation department can initiate a motion to terminate your participation in pretrial diversion. The court will then hold a hearing to determine whether to terminate it.

If your diversionary program is terminated, you may face re-arrest, and the court will resume criminal proceedings on the original charge(s) filed against you.

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