Diversion for Marijuana Charges in California – Penal Code PC 1000
Diversion is a California sentencing option that allows a first time marijuana offender (under certain circumstances) to avoid a jail or prison sentence and to participate in a drug education, treatment and/or rehabilitation program instead. This program only applies to a few marijuana offenses and has specific eligibility requirements, but if it is successfully completed, it allows the accused to ultimately have his or her charges dismissed. An experienced California marijuana criminal attorney is the key to seeing that this type of alternative sentencing option is offered to the accused.
Diversion (codified under California’s Penal Code section 1000) permits an individual who has been convicted of possessing marijuana for personal use, who has been convicted of cultivating marijuana for personal use (both as first time offenders) or an individual who has been convicted of possessing not more than one ounce of marijuana (other than concentrated cannabis) while driving for his or her fourth time in a two-year period to participate in a series of drug education classes in lieu of serving a jail or prison sentence. The accused may request to be referred to any program in any county, so long as it is court approved.
Diversion applies to an individual who meets the above requirements and who has no prior drug offense convictions, whose pending charge didn’t involve violence or threatened violence, whose prior criminal record doesn’t indicate that probation or parole has previously been revoked without being successfully completed, whose prior criminal record doesn’t indicate that he or she had participated in diversion within the last five years and who has no prior felony convictions within the last five years. If the prosecuting attorney believes that the accused meets these requirements, he or she will recommend that the accused participate in diversion, thereby entitling the accused to a deferred entry of judgment.
A “deferred entry of judgment” means that the defendant will be required to enter a guilty plea to the charged offense but will not be sentenced until he or she is allowed the opportunity to successfully complete the diversion program. As a part of this program, the accused will be subject to random drug testing and, if he or she tests positive for marijuana or other drug use, he or she will likely be removed from the program and sentenced to the charge to which he or she already plead guilty. An individual may face the same consequence if the judge, probation department or prosecuting attorney feels that he or she is performing unsatisfactorily in the program, that he or she is not benefiting from drug education, treatment or rehabilitation, that he or she has been convicted of misdemeanor that reflects his or her propensity for violence, has been convicted of a felony or has engaged in criminal conduct that renders him or her unsuitable for deferred entry of judgment. If, however, those same parties find that the accused successfully completed the diversion program, the judge (no sooner than 18 months and no later than three years from the individual’s referral date) will vacate the plea and dismiss the charges against him or her.
Diversion offers an eligible individual a great opportunity to avoid a jail or prison sentence that may otherwise be imposed in connection with his or her marijuana charge. Even if one isn’t charged with one of the offenses that qualifies for the diversion program, the skilled California marijuana criminal defense lawyers at The Kavinoky Law Firm may be able to negotiate a plea bargain that allows his or her client to participate in diversion by having the prosecutor agree to charge the accused with an eligible offense. To learn more about the requirements, advantages and disadvantages of diversion or about other alternative sentencing options, contact these exceptional attorneys today for a free consultation.