The War on Drugs in California
The state of California has long been the first stop for cars, boats, planes and even pedestrians loaded down with illegal drugs crossing over the border into the U.S. This has put California on the “front lines” of the federal War on Drugs. As a result, California has been a pioneer with regard to legislation and initiatives related to drug offenses.
At the same time, California was one of the first states to recognize there was a difference between drug addicts and drug dealers. As far back as the early 1990s, California began offering defendants with a legitimate drug problem the option to complete a drug treatment program.
Drug Court Process and Procedure
As of 2014, there were over 200 drug courts operating in over 50 counties in California. The goal of any drug treatment program is to offer an offender the ability to complete a lengthy rehabilitation program in lieu of incarceration. Drug treatment has a recidivism rate of just 30 percent compared to 75 percent for prisoners released from state and federal prisons. The resulting benefit to society is less crime.
You may be asking, “What does drug court entail?” A drug court typically entails:
- A lengthy – 18 months or longer – process and sentence
- The sentence ordered by the drug court may, or may not, include formal probation
- If you are sentenced to probation, additional special conditions may also be included
If you are allowed to participate in a drug treatment program, some common conditions include:
- Attending regular group and/or individual meetings
- Individual therapy
- Drug testing
- Maintaining employment or enrollment in school
- Reporting to the court about your progress as directed
- Not committing a new crime
Eligibility for Drug Treatment
Individuals in both the criminal and civil court system can participate in a drug treatment program in California. Civil court participants are usually parents in jeopardy of losing parental rights because of a drug problem. The District Attorney’s Office along with the Probation Department will determine if an offender is eligible for a drug rehabilitation program. A qualifying offender must usually have a history of drug abuse or addiction which is at least one motivating factor in the commission of their instant criminal offense.
Certain criteria will likely make you ineligible, such as:
- In crimes of violence, either the instant offense or a previous offense can disqualify you from a drug treatment program
- Crimes where a weapon was used during the commission of the crime
- Offenses where serious bodily injury occurred or was intended
- Sex offenses
- Transportation of drugs (unless only transporting for personal use)
- Sale of drugs (though some programs do allow sale offenses)
Conviction or No Conviction
It is important to understand where you stand in regards to being convicted of a drug offense. Drug treatment can be ordered post-conviction or pre-conviction by a drug court. This means you could be ordered to complete a drug treatment program following a conviction of guilt or before admitting guilt.
If you have already admitted guilt, the court may proceed straight to sentencing should you fail drug treatment. Pre-conviction admittance to drug treatment means you are back where you started from without a conviction should you fail the drug treatment program.
If you are facing drug charges in San Diego or anywhere in the state of California and are looking for immediate help, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time. A free and confidential consultation with San Diego criminal defense lawyer Domenic J. Lombardo is available. Call us at (619) 232-5122 or send us a message via the contact page.