Many California drug offenders need help, not prison time after getting arrested for certain drug crimes. In these cases, offenders can complete a state sanctioned drug treatment program rather than go to jail or prison.

To qualify for a treatment program, the drug offense must be “non-violent” in nature and the offender must meet various eligibility requirements. This drug sentencing alternative was established under the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000, more commonly known as Proposition 36. The statute applies to people who unlawfully possess or use a wide variety of drugs, including cocaine and heroin.

Most of the eligible drug crimes involve simple possession of a small amount of the illegal substance. Those charged with the intent to sell or distribute drugs do not qualify, and neither do offenders caught transporting drugs. Anyone convicted of a drug offense while in possession of a firearm is also automatically disqualified even if the weapon was not actually used in the commission of the crime.

The law only permits first and second time drug offenders to participate. Also, an offender who commits a non-drug related crime (misdemeanor or felony) simultaneously with a drug crime is also ineligible. Further, those convicted of a violent felony within five years of a drug conviction are also excluded from the diversion program.

The Proposition 36 diversion/alternative sentencing program is fairly comprehensive, and its services include drug education, detoxification, addiction treatment and various types of follow-up care such as counseling. The law does allow for some in-patient or residential care. However, the vast majority of offenders undergo treatment on an outpatient basis. Rehabilitation generally lasts one year. Under the current law, an offender may be granted up to two six-month extensions for continuing rehabilitation.

Anyone facing a drug charge should consult an experienced drug crime attorney who can determine if they qualify for a diversion program.

Strategic Law Command, based in Roseville, California, serves clients throughout the greater Sacramento metropolitan area who have been charged with possession and other drug crimes. Our attorneys and support staff have the requisite knowledge, skill and experience to vigorously challenge even the most difficult criminal charges. If you have been charged with a drug offense or other serious crime, feel free to contact us or call 916-787-1234 for a consultation.