A diversion program is often used in criminal law to control the jail population and give an offender a fresh start. In exchange for a guilty plea, the offender isn't sentenced to jail time. Instead, he or she may become eligible for a diversion program. If the offender successfully completes the diversion program and stays out of trouble, the case is dismissed.
List of Associated Crimes/Charges/Substances
California's Health & Safety Code 11350(a), 11357, 11364, 11365, 11377 or 11550 Vehicle Code 23152
Drug Diversion Programs
In California, several alternatives are available to going to jail for drug conviction. Two alternatives are listed under the state's penal code section 1000 and Proposition 36.
Penal Code Section 1000
Under the P.C. 1000 series, a defendant accused of possessing a controlled substance may be eligible to complete a drug diversion program. This diversion program is strictly for first-time offenders. For example, if you are accused of simple drug possession, you would plead guilty. The judge will suspend the criminal sentence association with the crime for approximately 36 months. During those months, you complete a drug treatment program. You aren't given probation while in the diversion program. However, during that time you're responsible for paying all court fees in full.
Upon successful completion of the program and full payment, the court may petition to dismiss the original drug charge. This means the charge is erased from a defendant's criminal record. As if it never happened.
In 2000, California voters passed Proposition 36. It's an alternative drug treatment program for non-violent drug offenses. Prop 36 is defined under the state's P.C. 1210 and 1210.1. Offenders not eligible for a diversion program under P.C. 1000 may qualify for drug treatment under Prop 36. It's for defendants who are charged and convicted with drug possession for either the first or second time.
For instance, if you are convicted of your second simple drug possession, you're ineligible for P.C. 1000. You can receive about a year in a drug treatment program instead of going to jail. You'll have to pay all court costs in full and complete the program for your criminal case to be dismissed.
Being charged with an underlying drug charge such as possession, will make you ineligible for this program.
Approved drug treatment programs under Prop 36 include:
- Residential or outpatient treatment
- Drug education classes
- Detoxification procedures
- Post-release treatment program
Who is Eligible for Drug Diversion?
To qualify for P.C. 1000, the following must apply:
- It's your first drug-related criminal offense
- The charge doesn't include any drug selling
- The charge can't include any alleged violence
- No history of parole or probation ever being revoked
- No prior felony within five years of the drug charge
- No prior history of successfully completing or being terminated from a diversion program
The type of drug a defendant is accused of possessing doesn't matter.
Eligibility for Prop 36 depends on whether you're charged with simple possession or possession with intent to sell. The latter will disqualify you from entering a Prop 36 program. The drug possession charges must be H&S 11377, 11350 and 11550. The court will also determine eligibility based on the following factors:
- Any prior “ strike” conviction: A prior strike conviction must be more than five years after leaving prison. The conviction was non-violent drug offense or a misdemeanor where there was a threat or actual injury to another person.
- No simultaneous non-drug related misdemeanor or felony along with the simple possession charge
- Agreement to enter into drug treatment
- No possession or use of a deadly weapon at the time of the non-violent drug possession arrest
- Participation in a second Prop 36 program would be beneficial—if this is the second possession offense after completing a program.
What are the Penalties Associated with not completing a Drug Diversion Program?
The possible penalties include having a drug conviction on your record. An offender who doesn't complete the diversion program may also face the original charges associated with the simple possession charge. For example, a defendant convicted of H&S 11350a, possession of a controlled substance, would receive up to 16 months to three years in prison.
Driving while Under the Influence Alternatives
List of Associated Crimes/Charges/Substance
Vehicle Code 23152
Many individual charged with driving under the influence, or DUI, may hope to take advantage of the many diversion programs offered by California. Unfortunately, diversion programs aren't offered to defendants charged with DUI-related crimes with one exception. A defendant charged with DUI and drug possession crimes may seek a diversion program for the latter. The DUI charge is settled via trial or plea bargain.
According to VC 23152, a first DUI conviction carries a maximum penalty of 96 hours to six months in jail. An offender may also pay a fine of up to $2,000. The time in jail and fine increases with each DUI offense committed within a 10-year period.
What does the Prosecution have to Prove Guilt in My DUI Charge?
Unlike a drug diversion program, someone charged with DUI doesn't plead guilty to receive an alternative sentence. Prosecutors only have to prove two elements to convict an individual of DUI:
- The driver operated the motor vehicle at the time of the traffic stop or accident
- The driver was under the influence of alcohol and/ or drugs while operating the motor vehicle
The term “ under the influence” refers to the drug and/ or alcoholic beverage impairing the driver's mental and/ or physical abilities. The impairment caused the driver to lose his or her ability to operate a motor vehicle with ordinary care required by state law.
Options for Avoiding Jail Time
DUI jail sentence alternative is an option. It depends on a variety of factors working in a defendant's factor. One factor includes having an aggressive criminal attorney who knows how to negotiate a plea deal to avoid any jail time.
Alternatives to spending time in jail for a DUI conviction include:
- House arrest
- Electronic monitoring
- Alcohol or drug abuse rehabilitation
- Community service
- Weekend detention
- Graffiti removal or Cal Trans
- Work furlough
- City or private jail
Hiring a Criminal Attorney? Call the Law Offices of P J Voll
Are you facing a drug possession or DUI in Los Angeles? If you've been accused and/or charged with a drug or DUI charge, you can avoid jail time. Drug diversion programs and DUI jail alternatives are an option. At the Law Offices of Jeff Voll, we specialize in helping our clients avoid a drug or DUI conviction by negotiating with prosecutors or presenting a defense at trial.
We offer free case evaluation. If you have any questions or concerns contact us immediately. Call us at 323-467-6400 today. We are ready to help you defend yourself against any drug and/ or alcohol related criminal charge.
Remember, you aren't facing a criminal charge alone. The Law Offices of Jeff Voll will look at your case and build a tough defense to help you avoid jail time.