When you face drug crime charges, you will undergo a lengthy trial process, followed by the judge’s determination based on the submitted evidence. Typically, any party found guilty of the alleged offense will face serious penalties that often involve incarceration. Alternatively, you may have to pay hefty fines as punishment for involvement in the offense. However, you can avoid facing the conventional outcome by applying to join a pre-trial diversion program.
It applies to persons seeking an alternative outcome for their offense, primarily by undergoing behavioral reform. When applying to join, you want to work with an experienced criminal attorney for the best chances of being accepted. At California Criminal Lawyer Group, you will receive excellent legal services aimed at helping you achieve your goal. The team has assisted hundreds of clients facing drug crime charges in Anaheim, California, in joining the pretrial diversion program and benefiting from it.
What the Pre-Trial Diversion Program for Drug Offenses Entails
A suitable alternative for an entire case hearing followed by conviction is the pre-trial diversion program for drug-related offenses. The option is popular among first-time offenders, as it protects you from proceeding with trial and facing subsequent penalties.
The main difference between a pretrial diversion program and a probation program is the timing. On one hand, the diversion program is issued before the court directs parties to prepare for trial. Hence, you do not have to worry about preparing defenses and making additional court appearances.
On the other hand, a probation program is issued after the trial concludes and you are found guilty. Consequently, probation is an alternative to facing a conviction or fine payments. Nonetheless, it remains under the sentencing category, meaning it can be substituted for regular sentences upon non-completion.
Upon joining a pre-trial diversion program, the court appoints a supervising officer responsible for making follow-ups with you regarding the program. Like a probation officer, the supervising officer holds several expectations from you, including full compliance with the program regulations. They will also present a final report to the presiding judge when the pretrial diversion duration is over. In doing so, the judge can make an informed decision.
There are several benefits to joining a pre-trial diversion program for drug offenses. Firstly, you will have your case dismissed, provided you followed all legal guidelines during the entire period. Additionally, persons facing serious addiction problems have a chance to make significant progress towards breaking the habit. This can be a positive step towards overall health improvement, as well as avoiding criminal involvement.
Under section 1000 of the California Penal Code, your criminal record is erased upon completing the diversion program. Therefore, you do not have to worry about missing out on significant opportunities based on the existing records.
Your supervising officer can also be a reliable referee in future instances, primarily if you work well together. Thanks to the positive remarks regarding your ability to reform, you can access better opportunities or avoid significant legal consequences. This is important in case of subsequent arrest.
Drug Charges Allowing a Pre-Trial Diversion Program Option
Notably, not all drug offenses will allow you to join a pre-trial diversion program, as they may involve serious case facts with regrettable outcomes for the victims. Hence, section 1000 of the Penal Code lists drug charges applicable when enrolling accused persons in the diversion program.
The main charges allowing you to join the program include:
- Illegal possession of Methamphetamine
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Engagement in lewd behavior caused by drug intoxication
- Facing arrest while under the influence of a controlled substance
- Possession of controlled substances listed in section 11350 of the Penal Code
- Possession of Marijuana in an open storage container inside the vehicle
- Aiding others to use drugs
The Eligibility Criteria for Parties Seeking to Join the Program
Usually, the court only directs qualified applicants to the pre-trial diversion program to avoid frustrating the structure and goals created for participants. Therefore, you are tasked with proving your eligibility to the court to secure your spot in the program ultimately. Your criminal defense attorney should assist in checking the eligibility criteria and ensuring you meet all expectations.
Sometimes, the criteria require you to have a specific record by the time you apply, meaning most persons are automatically disqualified at the preliminary stage. However, some requirements can be met by justifying your position and using your circumstances to seek leniency from the court. As a result, you want to conduct your research on time to help you determine the likelihood of a successful application.
The eligibility criteria for a pre-trial diversion after committing a drug crime is:
You are a First-time Offender
One of the constant requirements across all pre-trial diversion programs is for the offender to have only the offense in question in their record. The requirement is to give preference to first-time offenders, as they often have a better chance of undergoing reform than repeat offenders.
Further, using the requirement will help in the automatic disqualification of persons with a lengthy criminal history. This is because the legal provisions guiding the judge may prohibit a person with multiple convicted offenses from benefiting from the program. For some, the court will interpret their history as demonstrated impunity that shows their inability to turn over a new leaf.
As a first-time offender, you will need to prove that your criminal record is clean save for the current charges. Your criminal defense lawyer can assist in the process by contacting the Department of Justice for certified copies of your record. Afterward, they will present the documents to the court and seek further directives from the presiding judge.
Despite the eligibility criteria, you should note that not all first-time offenders will automatically qualify to join the diversion program. If your case involves aggravating factors, the judge may decide against enrolling you based on the severity of your actions. Nonetheless, the question of seriousness is arguable in court through your lawyer.
A Decent Criminal Record for Non-First Time Offenders
Although the eligibility criteria often limit second or third-time offenders in the pre-trial diversion program, exceptions are made in exceptional circumstances. Nonetheless, the judge maintains discretion in determining whether your case qualifies for consideration to join the program.
Therefore, you will need to prove several elements regarding the nature of previously-convicted offenses and whether you underwent any reform after the conviction. The best argument is that the past offenses were misdemeanors or minor infections. By presenting this position, you will demonstrate that no real harm or threat to security occurred based on your actions.
On top of this, it would help to provide proof of any completion documents received from past involvement in reformative programs. One of the common reform options for convicted persons is a probation program.
You must meet specific court requirements during the probation period, like completing community service, educational programs, and reporting to your probation officer. Since probation imposes similar standards to a pre-trial diversion program, you will have shown your likelihood to benefit from the latter if selected.
Your criminal defense attorney should be actively involved in preparing your records and contacting your previous probation officers for recommendations before submitting your application. This way, you are in a better position to present a thoroughly researched and well-backed presentation.
The judge will also reach a decision depending on whether your criminal history involved committing the same offenses. Sometimes, offenders who repeat the same crimes have lower chances of joining the pre-trial diversion program if their main argument was that they underwent reform successfully.
This is because the judge expects that you will refrain from breaking the same law again after undergoing the criminal trial process.
No Aggravating Factors Were Present When Committing the Crime
As mentioned, aggravating factors lower your chances of securing a position in the pre-trial diversion program, even as a first-time offender. This is because they worsen the circumstances surrounding your offense, meaning you most likely caused significant harm to others.
Among the common aggravating factors in drug, crimes is using violence to promote drug-related activities. For example, involvement in violent gang activities against law enforcement officers to enable drug trafficking is an aggravating factor.
The situation will also be significantly worse if a victim died or sustained serious injuries during the altercation. For some, the prosecutor may open separate charges related to the victim’s experience, meaning you will be answerable for multiple crimes.
Consequently, your criminal defense lawyer should brief you on the likelihood of acceptance into the pretrial program if your case involves additional factors. In doing so, you will better understand whether to complete the application or seek alternative solutions to avoid sentencing.
Your Release Should Not Pose a Threat to Public Safety
Most drug-related offenses present various public health and safety challenges, primarily if your operations are controlled by gang activity. Often, violence is involved when acquiring drugs for possession.
Furthermore, while some may argue that your individual possession of drugs does not threaten others’ safety, you may expose them to some risk factors. For example, your behavior when intoxicated may be a source of alarm for persons around you. Alternatively, if you possess drugs for sale or assist in committing other crimes, you may be classified as a threat to public safety.
Due to this, the judge will assess cases individually to establish the circumstances and ultimately determine whether you are eligible for release and the pre-trial program. Your criminal defense lawyer can help you make a convincing argument when presenting your application. If successful, you will be ready to start the program activities for your reform.
What to Expect After Joining the Pre-Trial Diversion Program
Subject to the court’s approval to enroll in the pre-trial diversion program, you will begin the sessions as soon as possible. Therefore, you want to understand the different expectations to hold when beginning, as you will have a clear map of the various expectations to satisfy. Furthermore, you will be better equipped to follow the rules as you understand the reasoning behind the issued guidelines.
Some important requirements to satisfy when undertaking the pre-trial diversion program for drug offenses are:
You Must Complete the Drug Treatment Program
As discussed, most offenders referred to the pretrial diversion program will have faced arrest for drug possession offenses. Due to this, they are most likely to have moderate to severe drug addiction that could cripple their ability to recover and avoid using drugs.
Therefore, the drug diversion treatment program is necessary for you, as you will have a chance to undergo complete rehabilitation. The judge provides a timeline by which enrolled persons should complete the program to secure a positive report in the end.
During the treatment sessions, you will begin with a medical detoxification process that aims to reduce the amount of drugs in your bloodstream. Since your body may be accustomed to functioning only under the influence of specific drugs, the assigned medical professional will subject the detox gradually. Doing so prevents your body from going into shock and extreme withdrawal, which can be detrimental to your health.
The initial body detoxification stage can last a few days, weeks, or months, depending on how severely addicted you are. Persons dealing with long-term addiction may also need inpatient treatment to ensure they receive constant supervision.
Alternatively, mildly affected persons can choose an outpatient treatment program, provided they are stable enough to avoid drug use. Once a medical examiner marks you ready for the second stage of the drug treatment program, you can attend the additional sessions.
Typically, the sessions are interactive, as they involve one-on-one and group therapy. You want to provide as much information as possible on the causes of your addiction to benefit from the program fully. When attending group therapy, you can also expect to undertake team-based activities to help build your social skills.
Your instructors and medical professionals should be available for assistance, particularly if you struggle with withdrawal or anxiety. This is because eradicating addiction can be a demanding task for persons exposed to drug use for a long time.
Despite the flexibility in undertaking the treatment program, the court expects you to complete it within twelve to eighteen months. Dropping out of the program before the minimum twelve-month threshold can result in punitive outcomes, as the court may interpret it as non-compliance. Similarly taking too long to complete the program may paint you in a bad light as you will have delayed the case process.
You Must Comply to Having Random Drug Tests
Moreover, the presiding judge may issue directives that require you to submit to random drug tests. The court issues these orders in the interest of cultivating accountability. For example, a person undertaking the outpatient drug treatment program may be tempted to consume drugs to help with their withdrawal effects.
Sometimes, inpatients may also sneak drugs into the medical facility and continue abusing them beyond the supervised amount issued during detox. Consequently, the entire pretrial diversion program would be unsuccessful, resulting in repeated unlawful activities.
By complying with random drug tests, you will have to avoid drug possession and consumption to avoid being detected and facing legal penalties. You should also remember that presenting clean drug test results portrays your ability to reform and avoid drug intake. In return, you may receive lenient court orders even as the program continues.
You should note that refusing to take a test may invoke a reasonable presumption of your guilty indulgence. Thus, the officers conducting the tests may prepare a report for the judge’s reference, resulting in outcomes like prosecution and conviction when found guilty.
Upholding Your Professional or Educational Responsibilities
Although you will be undergoing the diversion program, the court expects you to uphold your responsibilities elsewhere as proof of improved behavior. Therefore, self-employed persons or employees working under a company should continue going to work provided they have completed the detox treatment. Likewise, students under the diversion program should keep up with their schoolwork and attend classes as required.
The presiding judge may require proof of continuous and consistent employment and school enrollment. Hence, you want to obtain documents from your employer or school supervisors confirming your participation as required. Self-employed persons can present details showing continuous participation in their daily roles, including account logs and attendance records, among others.
It is noteworthy that the assigned program officer may also visit your school or place of work to verify your attendance and participation. If they identify any inconsistencies with your claims, they will report them to the judge for further action.
Therefore, you want to write to your officer in advance in case of non-attendance on a specific date. Your reason for the non-attendance should be valid and may need to be justified later in court. If you require assistance with drafting the letter, you can request your criminal defense attorney to attend to the matter. The written correspondences will be vital in helping you provide evidence of your accountability if the court questions your motives.
Maintain Communication With Your Supervising Officer
As you enroll in the diversion program, the court will provide a supervising officer who follows up on your participation and conformity. Although the officers will not accompany you to all meetings, they should have access to your progress throughout, as they will compile your final report.
Maintaining regular communication with the officer is also essential to help you receive assistance or remedies in emergencies. For example, you can request a transfer if your current drug treatment facility provides substandard services or neglects court-assigned patients.
The officer should also obtain any log book or record-keeping material you use throughout the diversion program at any time upon request. While the details may not always be accessible, you want to uphold a good reputation by giving a recap of your daily activities and goals achieved during your program.
Finally, you should remember that the supervising officer will make remarks regarding your ability to cooperate and communicate in the final court report. Hence, your communication should remain transparent and continuous to avoid any incriminating details presented against you.
What to Expect After Dropping Out of the Diversion Program
If you cannot complete the program as required, you risk facing several legal repercussions from the judge's orders. The consequences may vary depending on the circumstances in which you absconded from the program. For example, if you were sick and required prolonged medical attention, the judge can make an exception to your case and remain open for future reinstatement.
However, if you present an invalid or unjustified reason for non-completion, you will forfeit your right to have your case dismissed. Instead, the judge orders the prosecutor to reopen the matter and prepare for a full hearing.
Consequently, you will revert to a position requiring you to seek a criminal defense lawyer’s services, in readiness for defense arguments. When working with your attorney, you want to reveal any important details that may shift the dynamics of your case.
Once the defenses are ready, you can then proceed with the matter for a full trial. The prosecutor will present their arguments, followed by the defense counsel’s counterarguments. To conclude, the judge will either find you guilty or not guilty of the offense, resulting in possible sentencing.
You should remember that various sentencing policies that encourage the judge’s discretion apply. Hence, the presiding judge may consider the failure to complete your diversion program when issuing the final court order. However, some may choose to only focus on the case facts and presented evidence, meaning your sentence will be unaffected by the previous events.
Contact a Anaheim Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Doubtless, drug crime charges often attract harsh penalties for any party found guilty of the allegations. Subsequently, completing a regular sentence can deny you a chance to undergo complete reform, as you are most likely locked up. You can choose a different outcome for yourself by joining the pre-trial diversion program for drug crimes. Thanks to the assistance you receive, you will have better chances of having your case dismissed, giving you a second chance in life.
Choosing California Criminal Lawyer Group to guide you through the diversion program is a brilliant idea, as you will be working with skilled attorneys. Over the years, multiple clients facing charges for drug crimes in Anaheim, California, have benefitted from our services and successfully joined the program. For additional guidelines on the pretrial diversion for drug crimes, contact us today at 714-766-0965.