If you have been arrested and charged with a drug or alcohol related criminal offense in San Diego you may be eligible to complete a treatment program instead of going to jail if you are convicted of the offense for which you are charged. Because the laws relating to treatment program options are complex, only an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney can evaluate your specific situation and tell you if you are potentially eligible for a treatment program. A brief overview of treatment program options, however, might point you in the right direction.
The California prison system has suffered from serious overcrowding for decades. Some of the overcrowding is a result of mandatory sentencing and California’s original “Three Strikes” legislation. To try and reduce some of the overcrowding, Proposition 36 was passed over a decade ago. Also known as the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000, Proposition 36 requires that eligible non-violent drug offenders serve their sentence in an approved treatment program in lieu of serving the sentence in prison or jail. In addition, Proposition 36 may apply to individuals who violate a condition of parole by committing a non-violent drug possession offense. When applicable, Proposition 36 allows a parolee to complete a treatment program instead of returning to prison.
Qualifying for treatment in lieu of incarceration is dependent on many factors. First, only crimes of possession for personal use qualify. If you are charged with selling drugs, manufacturing drugs, or possessing a large quantity of drugs allegedly with the intent to sell or distribute them you will not qualify for a treatment program. Moreover, the crime must be a non-violent offense. Sometimes this is fact specific. For example, if you had a firearm on you while in possession of a quantity of drugs, even if the quantity was clearly small enough for personal use, you could be disqualified because of the presence of the firearm.
There are also reasons why you could be disqualified even if the offense for which you have been charged qualifies. Additional reasons that could disqualify you include:
- You refuse drug treatment as a probation condition
- You were previously sentenced to treatment two or more times
- You have a “strike” on your record, meaning a previous conviction for a serious or violent felony
- You were also convicted of an unrelated misdemeanor or felony at the same time you were convicted of the charge for which you could qualify for treatment.
If you believe that you may be eligible for a treatment program in San Diego in lieu of jail or prison it is important that you consult with an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.