Drug crimes provide an interesting study in social justice. While few people will seriously argue that drug addiction is good for society, that the commercial side of the drug business is acceptable as it currently operates, or that the violence often surrounding the importation of illegal drugs is sustainable, there is strong debate about how best to address these issues; particularly from a criminal justice perspective. For many years there has been a movement towards approaching the drug problem from a health and welfare perspective rather than a purely retributive criminal angle. Recently, this movement has gained substantive momentum. Today, twenty states plus the District of Columbia have laws legalizing at least some forms of marijuana use and two states, Washington and Colorado, have legalized the drug for recreational use. Many more states have developed programs to help drug offenders and abusers rather than simply punishing them for their addictions; California is among this latter group.
Penal Code 1000
Faced with a severely overcrowded prison system and budget difficulties, California has developed a program under which drug offenders can obtain help and treatment rather than a criminal record and a jail sentence. Authorized by Penal Code 1000, California courts have the authority to delay a criminal drug conviction pending successful completion of an approved drug treatment program; successful graduates of such a program can then have their charges dismissed. This is known as a Deferred Entry of Judgment and typically requires a defendant to plead guilty to the charges prior to entering the program. Failure to complete the program will result in those charges being finalized in a conviction.
TreatmentDuring the program the court will determine which course of treatment is best for the defendant. This process will take into consideration factors such as the defendant’s age, education, employment situation, community and family situation, and drug history. Failing to fully participate in the program can result in the court entering judgment against the defendant which will result in a sentencing hearing to determine the appropriate punishment for the crimes charged.
After a defendant successfully completes a DEJ program, the court will set aside the charges. This means that successful program graduates can truthfully state that they have never been convicted of the crime in question and that the associated arrest record cannot be used against the individual with regard to employment or professional licensure or certification.
Call us for helpBecause there are multiple options that apply to different types of crimes and circumstances, it’s best to seek professional legal help before attempting to negotiate any type of drug crimes alternative treatment option. If you are facing a drug related crime, don’t wait to contact us as any delay may jeopardize your legal rights.