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How Can Diversion Programs Help Immigrants Facing Drug Charges?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Alameda County criminal defense attorney diversion program

Since the War on Drugs began in the early 1970s, prison inmate numbers have skyrocketed for criminal drug charges, even those considered minor. As more research surfaces regarding addiction and the effectiveness of rehabilitation, many states have begun to rethink the sentences given to those individuals facing drug charges. California has been known to be a more liberal state when it comes to laws regarding marijuana, although there are still strict regulations for those caught with illegal drugs. As a state near the border of Mexico, California has a high immigrant population and these drug regulations apply to them as well. Drug charges can affect the future of anyone found guilty, but this is even more true of people who depend on a clean criminal record to remain in the United States. Rather than sending offenders with minor drug charges to prison, California has created a program known as “pretrial diversion” to keep individuals with minor charges out of jail and immigrants wishing to stay in the United States from being deported.

What Is the Pretrial Diversion Program?

At the beginning of 2018, California created a pretrial diversion program to help offenders with minor drug charges, including non-citizens. Those accused of such charges, known as defendants, are able to plead “not guilty” before they are diverted to a drug education program meant to help them overcome addiction and understand the consequences of these illegal substances. If the course is completed, along with any other sentence requirements, in 12-18 months, then the drug charges will be dropped from their record. This is exceedingly important for immigrants since a drug conviction can lead to their detainment and deportation from the United States. Those individuals who participate in the pretrial diversion program will not see a negative impact on their criminal record or their immigration status.

Who Qualifies for A Diversion Program?

The moments after an arrest and accusation can leave a person reeling, especially if the ability to stay in the country is dependent upon his or her record. First-time offenders may not know what defense tactics they can take or how they can avoid time in prison. A pretrial diversion program may be an option worth considering. If an individual meets the following criteria, he or she may qualify for such a program:

  1. The defendant has not faced a conviction involving controlled substances in the past five years.

  2. The offense was not violent and did not include any threats of violence.

  3. There is no evidence of other outstanding violations regarding narcotics or other restricted, dangerous drugs.

  4. The defendant does not have any felony convictions within the past five years.

The above stipulations focus on an offender’s past, not necessarily his or her current charge, so you may be wondering which drug offenses qualify for such the pretrial diversion program. Generally speaking, charges for simple possession, paraphernalia possession, and being under the influence are admissible. Charges that may also meet the qualifications for the program include obtaining a drug using a fake prescription and growing marijuana for personal use only.

Call a Santa Clara County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Whether you are a U.S. citizen or an immigrant, any type of drug charge can have serious ramifications on your present and future. Since many drug charges are tied to addiction, California has created programs aimed at helping individuals rather than locking them up for their drug dependency. There are many alternative options for those facing minor drug charges, but without an attorney’s assistance, you may be uninformed about these possibilities. Fuller Law Office has over a decade of experience helping Californians navigate the criminal justice system to achieve favorable outcomes. We work tirelessly to help our clients receive a second chance, allowing them to move on from their mistakes. If you are facing drug charges and do not know where to turn, contact our Palo Alto diversion program attorney at 408-234-7563 to schedule your free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.ilrc.org/sites/default/files/resources/pretrial_diversion_ab_208_jan_2018.pdf

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=1000. 

 

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