California Penal Code § 1000 indicates an arrangement commonly known as a pretrial diversion or a deferred entry of judgment, in which a qualifying drug defendant requests to get their case put on hold for a set period of time while the defendant completes a state-approved drug rehabilitation or educational program. Penal Code § 1000 is very important because it enables some defendants to avoid conviction entirely with the deferred entry of judgment, or DEJ for short (this is also referred to as a pretrial diversion).
Pretrial Diversion vs. Deferred Entry of Judgement
Whether DEJ applies for any given case will depend on several factors, such as age, previous criminal history, and the crime in question. For instance, DEJ is more restricted for adults, applying only for certain types of drug offenses. On the other hand, for juveniles, deferred entry of judgment usually applies for most first-time felonies.
An Overview of How Pretrial Diversion Works
First, a defendant asks to complete an approved program in any county in California. The court determines the eligibility of the defendant and, once approved, provides the defendant with a set period of time in which to complete the program. California courts have both formal and informal diversion. A list of state-approved programs can be found at the courthouse in which the hearing took place. All of these programs will assess the defendant and must ensure a minimum of 20 hours of drug education or rehabilitation. At the end of the program, an assessment report must be provided to the court, detailing the defendant’s progress and successful completion of the program.
Upon Successfully Finishing the DEJ Program
Upon finishing the DEJ program, the court has an obligation to dismiss the drug charges against you. As such, the benefits of completing the program are that:
- You can lawfully and honestly say on an application for employment, school, housing, credit, or any other inquiry that you have not been convicted of that charge
- There will not be a conviction in your record that can be used against you in most cases. However, if you apply for government employment like a peace officer or like, you may be required to disclose.
Failing to Successfully Finish the DEJ Program
Throughout your participation in the court-sanctioned program, the court may determine that your efforts or participation are not satisfactory, or that some other issue has come up. Any of these may disqualify your eligibility for the diversion program. Some of these reasons can include:
- You have not attended the drug program
- Your participation was unsatisfactory
- You are not benefitting or showing improvements from the program
- You have gotten convicted of a felony while on the program
- You became convicted of a misdemeanor that shows a tendency for violence (i.e., assault, domestic violence charges, etc.)
- You participated in some other criminal activity that disqualified as per the judge’s discretion
Basically, a defendant can be removed from the DEJ program if at any point they fail to complete the program satisfactorily or if they get convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor involving violence. In that case, the defendant will get dropped from the program and sentenced per the underlying charge(s).
What Cases Qualify for Pretrial Diversion Per Penal Code § 1000?
There are two factors that are responsible for determining your eligibility for a DEJ. The first is the type of drug offense itself and the second is your previous criminal history.
According to California Penal Code § 1000, some drug offenses are eligible for deferred entry of judgment. Most often, these are:
- Business & Professions Code § 4060—Possession of a Controlled Substance
- Health and Safety Code § 11350 and § 11377— Personal Possession of a Controlled Substance
- California Health & Safety Code § 11377— Possession of Controlled Substance: Methamphetamine
- Health and Safety Code § 11357— Possession of Less Than One Ounce of Marijuana
- Health and Safety Code § 11358— Cultivation of Marijuana
- Health and Safety Code § 11364— Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- Health and Safety Code § 11365— Knowingly Being in a Place Where Drugs Are Being Used
- Health and Safety Code § 11368— Forgery of a Prescription
- Health and Safety Code § 11550— Being Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance
- Penal Code § 647(f)— Under the Influence of Drugs in Public
- Penal Code § 653(f)(d)— Solicitation of Drugs or Transportation of Them For Personal Use
- Vehicle Code § 23222(b)—Driving While in Possession of Marijuana
*A ‘controlled substance’ refers most commonly to such drugs as Cocaine, Marijuana, Heroin, Methamphetamines, Ketamine, Ecstasy, Vicodin, Codeine, and GHB.
Criminal History Plays a Key Factor in Eligibility of DEJ Program
Your prior criminal history is the other major factor used to determine whether your case is eligible for a DEJ. The conditions are:
- You do not have any previous drug-related convictions
- The drug offense in question is only possession-related and doesn’t include the selling of a controlled substance
- The offense must be non-violent
- You have no other convictions for a felony within 5 years of committing the drug offense in question
- You have no past history of parole or probation violations
- You have not already participated in another DEJ or pretrial diversion program within the last 5 years
The Steps Needed to Get a Pretrial Diversion
You should know that there are some strings attached with the deferred entry of judgment. It does require the defendant to plead guilty, with the condition that the court does not enter judgment. Thus, the final sentencing, or conviction, is never finalized. The case is therefore left in a limbo period, or deferment. During this period, the defendant must then successfully complete the appropriate, state-approved program. The court will look over the details of the case again and if everything was correctly done, the charge against the defendant will be dismissed.
Los Angeles Deferred Entry of Judgement Lawyer
The details surrounding the deferred entry of judgment can get complicated and murky. We can help you to assess if a pretrial diversion or a DEJ is possible given the details of your case. To speak to an Glendale criminal defense attorney, please call our firm at (310) 943-1171 or email us at [email protected].
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