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Alternative Sentencing in Drug Crime Cases
California provides alternatives to jail or prison time for those convicted of certain drug offenses. Generally, the goal of punishment is deterrence, however California law recognizes that eligible defendants may thrive given the opportunity to correct their own behavior through alternative sentencing in drug crime cases. Substance abuse and dependency is a complex issue, and the law is structured to provide drug diversion programs and formal probation instead of imprisonment. If you or someone close to you has been charged with a nonviolent drug offense, Riverside drug crime lawyer Gregory H. Comings can provide a strong defense on your behalf. Attorney Comings is familiar with alternative sentencing options following drug crime charges, such as California Penal Code 1000 and Proposition 36.
Specific factors determine whether defendants are eligible for alternative sentencing in drug crime cases, most applicable for non-violent felony and misdemeanor drug cases. A judge assesses the type of crime, the defendant’s criminal history, and whether the defendant is currently on probation or parole. If a weapon was used to commit the offense, or the defendant is at risk of harming himself or others, alternative sentencing may not be available.
Generally, drug diversion programs are available for low-level drug crimes, such as possession of a controlled substance. According to Penal Code 1000 PC, by completing drug treatment, defendants may be able to have their criminal charges dismissed. Defendants must meet certain requirements to be eligible for PC 1000, sometimes called deferred entry of judgment. These include being a first-time offender charged with possession, not sale, of a controlled substance. The offense must not have involved violence. Qualifying drug offenses may include personal possession of a controlled substance, cultivation of marijuana, and being under the influence of a controlled substance.
To enter the program, the defendant must plead guilty to charges. According to PC 1000, the defendant will not be sentenced, pending completion of the program. Criminal charges are dropped, provided that the defendant completes the program.
California’s Proposition 36, also known as formal drug probation, is a form of alternative sentencing available to certain non-violent drug offenders. As a drug diversion program, offenders may qualify to have their criminal charges dropped upon completion of their drug treatment. Proposition 36 requires that eligible non-violent drug offenders enter a guilty plea, and the judge will have the discretion to determine whether to dismiss charges.
Defendants charged with misdemeanor or felony drug possession may be eligible for Proposition 36 probation. An example includes being in possession or transporting drugs such as for cocaine, peyote, marijuana, for private use. However, if a person is found in possession of narcotics with intent to distribute or transport, the crime will not qualify for Proposition 36.
Generally, defendants granted Proposition 36 probation are assigned a probation officer, and must report to their officer regularly. A defendant that fails to complete the program, or violates other terms of probation may find that their probation has been revoked. Proposition 36 may also apply to certain parolees who commit a nonviolent drug possession offense while they are on parole. Nonviolent drug possession offenses include possession or transportation for personal use, being under the influence of drugs including but not limited to cocaine, peyote, methamphetamines, and most hallucinogens.
If you or a loved one are facing drug-related criminal charges, Gregory H. Comings may be able to help you avoid prison time and potentially dismiss your charges. For more than 19 years, Attorney Comings has effectively represented clients throughout San Bernardino and nearby communities, including Fontana, Indio, Moreno Valley, Highland, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, and Riverside. His passionate defense strives to secure the best possible outcome based on the unique facts of every client’s case. Mr. Comings is available to discuss the details of your case. Contact our office to schedule a consultation. We can be reached by phone at (951) 686-3457 or online.