Imagine you are pulled over for being under the influence of drugs and when the arresting officer searches you, he finds a forged prescription in your person. You are charged with simple possession and for forging a prescription to obtain a controlled substance. Maybe this is your first offense and you don’t want a criminal record. Or perhaps you have a couple misdemeanors but this is your first time facing drug charges. Either way you don’t want to do time! If you are a first time drug offender, you could be a good candidate for California’s Drug Diversion Program. Contact experienced San Diego diversion attorney Vik Monder to secure a diversion program that best fits your situation. You can reach him anytime at (619) 405-0063.
Drug Diversion in San Diego
Diversion under California PC 1000 offers first time non violent drug offenders facing charges for particularized drug possession offenses, the opportunity to enter a deferred entry of judgment program. Instead of a conviction, this program offers rehabilitation thru treatment and education. Ultimately, successful completion of the program will result in the charges getting dismissed.
Understanding Penal Code Section 1000
In consideration of the seriousness of controlled substance abuse, California Penal Code section 1000 gives first time drug offenders the opportunity to be diverted out of the criminal justice system and into a drug rehabilitation program. Under this law, diversion is available to “Any person charged with a violation of sections 11350, 11357, 11358, 11364, 11365, 11368, 11375(b)(2), 11377, or 11550 of the Health and Safety Code, or section 23222(b) of the Vehicle Code, or sections 381, 647(f), or 653(d) of the Penal Code, or section 4060 of the Business and Professions Code, and who the prosecuting attorney determines that all of the following apply to:
- The defendant has no conviction for any offense involving controlled substances prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense.
- The offense charged did not involve a crime of violence or threatened violence.
- There is no evidence of a violation relating to narcotics or restricted dangerous drugs other than a violation of the sections listed in this subdivision.
- The defendant's record does not indicate that probation or parole has ever been revoked without thereafter being completed.
- The defendant's record does not indicate successfully completion or termination from diversion or deferred entry of judgment pursuant to this chapter within five years prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense.
- The defendant has no prior felony conviction within five years prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense.
Basically, eligibility for diversion under California PC 1000 is at the prosecutor’s discretion, it is not statutorily required. This means that the District Attorney’s Office does not have to offer diversion. To make the determination, the prosecutor looks at the following two factors:
Requirements for Drug Diversion in San Diego
First, the charged offense.
The original drug charge must be for personal use of a controlled substance. This means that a person charged with intent to sell does not qualify for a drug diversion under California PC 1000. In addition, the charged offense must not involve any allegations of threats of violence or violence.
Second, the defendant’s criminal history.
In San Diego the District Attorney’s office has discretion to use a defendant’s criminal history to decide whether or not the individual is eligible for a drug diversion program under California PC 1000. The prosecutor will look thru your criminal record for any prior drug convictions, revocations of probation or parole, felony convictions or deferred entry of judgments within five years of the current charged offense. If the prosecutor finds any one of these in your criminal record, you will not be eligible for a drug diversion program under California PC 1000.
What Offenses Qualify for Drug Diversion?
California PC 1000 only offers deferred entry of judgment for these specific drug offenses:
- Health and Safety Code 11350 – Personal Possession of a Controlled Substance
- Health and Safety Code 11357 –Possession of Less Than 1oz of Marijuana
- Health and Safety Code 11358 – Cultivating Marijuana
- Health and Safety Code 11364 – Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- Health and Safety Code 11365 – Aiding and Abetting Unlawful Use of Controlled Substances
- Health and Safety Code 11368 – Forged Drug Prescription
- Health and Safety Code 11375(b)(2) – Possession of Xanax
- Health and Safety Code 11377 – Possession of Methamphetamines
- Health and Safety Code 11550 – Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance
- Vehicle Code 23222(b) – Driving While In Possession of Marijuana
- Penal Code 381 – Possession of Toluene
- Penal Code 647(f) – Public Intoxication
- Penal Code 653f(d) – Solicitation
- Business and Professions Code 4060 – Possession of Controlled Substance
It is important to note that being charged under any one of these offenses alone does not automatically qualify you for diversion, you must also personally qualify.
Who Qualifies for Drug Diversion?
The diversion program is designed for first time or low level offenders. Individuals that have no history of serious criminal behavior and are facing charges for a low level minor non-violent crime. A defendant that has been charged with one of the offenses listed above must not have had a prior conviction for the same offense currently being charged.
Who Does Not Qualify for Drug Diversion?
The diversion program is not available to a defendant whose criminal record has any one of the following:
- Prior drug convictions.
- Current charge is for intent to sell controlled substance.
- Felony convictions within 5 years of the current charge.
- Prior participation in a diversion program within 5 years of the current charge.
- Probation revocation.
What Are the Most Common Controlled Substances in Drug Diversion Cases?
How to Obtain a Drug Diversion Offer?
The best way to obtain drug diversion is with the help of an experienced diversion criminal defense attorney. Under California PC 1000 diversion is discretionary, which means it is up to the prosecutor to offer a diversion program. Moreover, the District Attorney’s Office does not offer diversion programs to everyone that qualifies. That is why it is imperative to hire a reputable criminal defense attorney that has strong relationships with the District Attorney’s Office so that it will be easier to negotiate for diversion in your case. Ultimately, diversion is a deal between the prosecutor and the defense attorney, the court’s role is to facilitate that agreement.
How Does Diversion Work?
Once your defense attorney establishes that you are a good candidate for diversion and negotiates an offer with the prosecutor, the presiding judge will inform you of the terms of the offer and order you to complete a diversion program. As a condition to enrollment in diversion you will be asked to plead guilty to the charges. However, the plea will not be formally entered into the system, the judge will suspend the criminal proceedings against you for a period of up to eighteen months. During this time, you are expected to successfully complete the diversion program and pay all the fees associated with the case. Upon successful completion of the diversion program ordered by the court, the judge will vacate your guilty plea and dismiss the charges against you. However, it is important to note that if you do not complete the diversion program or follow the terms laid out by the court, the judge will reinstate your guilty plea and sentence you.
If you are currently facing drug charges in San Diego, it is important that you understand how drug diversion programs work. Remember that eligibility for diversion under California PC 1000 is NOT statutorily required. Which means that even if you qualify, the District Attorney’s Office does not have to offer you a diversion program.
The best way to a diversion program in San Diego is with criminal defense attorney Vik Monder at your side. He is an experienced diversion attorney and well respected in the San Diego legal community, he will do everything necessary to fight for your enrollment in a diversion program. Successful completion of a diversion program under California PC 1000 would dismiss your case and you could avoid a conviction on your record. You cannot afford to risk this opportunity, if you have any questions about a drug diversion program in San Diego, contact attorney Vik Monder at 619.405.0063 or visit www.monderlaw.com.