Pretrial Diversion for Drug Crimes in California, Part I

California offers pretrial diversion for drug crimes involving simple possession under California Penal Code §1000. Instead of jail time, certain individuals arrested for low-level drug crimes are able to pursue drug treatment and education. Following successful completion of drug treatment court, the criminal charges are dismissed, eliminating the person’s criminal record with respect to that charge.

Before January 1, 2018, the pretrial diversion program was known as deferred entry of judgment. Under the old law, an accused person was required to enter a guilty plea to the drug charge in order to participate in the drug diversion program. If the accused person completed the program, the charges would be dismissed. If the accused person failed to complete the program, the conviction would stand.

Modification to Pretrial Diversion Program

On January 1, 2018, participation in the PC §1000 diversion program was reclassified as a pretrial diversion program. This means that the accused person now pleads “not guilty” to the drug charge and is then permitted to participate in drug treatment.

Like the former deferred entry of judgment program, if the accused person successfully completes the drug treatment program, the charge will be dismissed. If the accused person is unsuccessful, he or she will stand trial and undergo a bench trial. A bench trial means the case is heard and decided by a judge only and the accused person no longer has the right to a trial by jury.  

Eligibility for PC §1000 Diversion

Only individuals charged with simple possession of drugs – for personal use only – are eligible for PC §1000 pretrial diversion. If there are other charges for selling or transporting controlled substances or possession of controlled substances for sale, the individual will not be eligible for pretrial diversion under the California Penal Code, even if the individual is a first-time offender.

The individual charged with simple possession of drugs must meet the following conditions to qualify for drug treatment court:

The accused person must not have been convicted of a non-PC §1000 eligible drug crime within the previous five years;

  • The charged offense must not be violent or have threatened violence;
  • There must be no evidence of any additional and more serious drug offenses related to the arrest, like additional charges for drug possession for sale or drug sale crimes); and
  • The accused person must not have any felony convictions within the proceeding 5 years.

Pretrial Diversion Program Specifics

The pretrial diversion program for certain drug offenses can last between 12 and 18 months. Depending on the individual circumstance of the case however, the program period may be longer. Under the new law, prior participation in a PC §1000 program is no longer a disqualifier for participation in a new PC §1000, so long as no prior felony conviction within the preceding five-year period.

Seek a Knowledgeable Lawyer with Pretrial Diversion Experience in California’s Criminal Justice System

An arrest for simple drug possession does not have to ruin your life. While not easy, drug treatment court offers an opportunity to obtain treatment and get counseling for drug addiction. If successful, you will be on your way to recovery and have the added benefit of no longer having a criminal record associated with the simple drug possession arrest. Contact one of our drug lawyers today to begin your criminal defense. The Law Offices of James E. Blatt with two locations in the greater Los Angeles area has offices in Beverly Hills and Encino to help you. Call us toll-free at (877) 546-2528. We are available 24 hours and seven days a week. Speak to a Los Angeles criminal defense attorneytoday to begin your immediate defense to criminal charges.