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Deferred Entry of Judgment - Penal Code 1000

Drug Possession and Use Sentencing Options

People facing drug possession and use charges in California may be able to keep a conviction off their records and avoid incarceration depending on the circumstances of their offenses. Two different programs - Deferred Entry of Judgment under Penal Code 1000 and Proposition 36 under Penal Code 1210.1 - provide the opportunity to enter a drug treatment program with the possibility of obtaining a dismissal of criminal charges. Both programs are aimed at drug users with the premise that treatment is more beneficial than time in jail. It is important to note that these programs are not available for people charged with selling, manufacturing, or trafficking drugs.

With personal use and possession of marijuana now legal in California because of voter approval of Proposition 64 in November 2016, both Deferred Entry of Judgment and Proposition 36 pertain to the possession and use of illegal drugs other than marijuana.

Though the programs are similar in intention, they do have important differences. Deferred Entry of Judgment is described below. Click here or on the tab to the left to read about Proposition 36 - passed by voters in 2000.

If you're facing charges for drug possession or use, it's important to consult with an experienced drug possession defense lawyer who can determine which program best suites your situation.

Deferred Entry of Judgment / Diversion - Penal Code 1000

Under Deferred Entry of Judgment (commonly referred to as Diversion), the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest to the drug possession charges. In return, the judge agrees to defer entering final judgment in the case for 18 months to three years, during which time the defendant is expected to complete a drug treatment program and maintain a clean criminal record. If these conditions are met, the judge sets aside the guilty plea, meaning that no conviction is entered into the defendant's record.

Penal Code section 1000.4 even goes so far as to say that "Upon successful completion of a deferred entry of judgment program, the arrest upon which the judgment was deferred shall be deemed to have never occurred." This means that if the defendant is questioned about her criminal record (such as when applying for employment), she does not have to mention the arrest or the deferred entry of judgment. (An exception to this is when a person applies for employment as a peace officer.)

To qualify for Deferred Entry of Judgment / Diversion, the defendant must meet specific requirements, including:

  • No prior convictions for drug possession;
  • No element of violence in the current offense;
  • No outstanding probation or parole violations;
  • No participation in a diversion or deferred entry of judgment program within the preceding five years;
  • No prior felony convictions within the preceding five years.

Diversion is a good option for many people charged with drug possession or use. The key factor is being able to complete the drug treatment program and to keep a clean record. Failure to meet these requirements could result in the judge "entering the deferred judgment," which could mean a conviction and time in county jail or state prison.

Free and Confidential Consultation

If you're facing drug possession or use charges, call me at 916-442-1200 to discuss in a free and confidential consultation whether Deferred Entry of Judgment would be a good choice for you.

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