In California, Penal Code 1000, also known as “DEJ” (Deferred entry of judgment), allows for an individual who is convicted of a nonviolent drug offense to receive drug treatment and education in lieu of a criminal record and a jail sentence.

This is because most nonviolent drug offenders would be better served by taking part in an education and treatment plan than spending time in a jail cell.

A person must be found to be appropriate for the “DEJ” program, however. According to Penal Code 1000, a drug diversion program should be offered to qualifying offenders. If “DEJ” is granted, the offender is diverted into a drug rehabilitation program and out of the court system in California.

If someone is facing a drug charge, it is wise for him or her to contact a criminal defense attorney. This professional will assist his or her client with obtaining “DEJ,” thus ensuring the chance for a brighter future.

Understanding Penal Code 1000

An offender is able to complete a drug treatment program, thus suspending court proceedings, through the “DEJ” provided by California through Penal Code 1000.

To obtain “DEJ,” the offender must plead guilty to the charge or charges. The judge then decides if the individual would benefit from a drug diversion program. If the judge believes the program would be appropriate for the offender, the court proceedings then are put on hold for about 18 months so a drug rehabilitation program can be completed. The judge selects a drug rehabilitation program based on its effectiveness and credibility.

Programs must follow certain curriculum guidelines, including administering an assessment of the offender upon his or her entry into the program; teaching at least 20 years of education, which should include counseling; and administering an exit discussion to report on the offender’s growth during the program.

Upon successful completion of the program, the original charges often are dismissed. The judge has the ability to still sentence the offender to jail, however, if the program was not completed properly.

Deferred entry eligibility

The judge will decide if someone is eligible for “DEJ” by considering the charged offenses and the defendant’s history, including his or her criminal record.

California’s Penal Code 1000 outlines the specific offense/offenses for which “DEJ” may be chosen. To participate in the program, in accordance with Penal Code 1000, the charge must involve the person possessing/using drugs instead of selling them, and the charge must not stem from accusations of violence.

The following are a few of the most common drug crimes committed in California:

  • Health and Safety Code 11357, which is California’s law against possession of less than one ounce of marijuana;
  • Health and Safety Code 11358, which is California’s law against cultivating marijuana;
  • Health and Safety Code 11364, which is California’s law against possessing drug paraphernalia;
  • Health and Safety Code 11365, which is California’s law against knowingly being in a place where drugs are being used;
  • Health and Safety Code 11550, which is California’s law against being under the influence of a controlled substance;
  • Health and Safety Code 11368, which is California’s law against forging or presenting a forged prescription to obtain drugs;
  • Vehicle Code 23222(b), which is California’s law against driving while in possession of marijuana;
  • Penal Code 647(f), which is California’s drunk in public law;
  • Penal Code 653f(d), which is California’s law against soliciting drug sales or transportation drugs; and
  • Health and Safety Code 11377  and Health and Safety Code 11350, which are California’s laws against personal possession of a controlled substance.

The aforementioned California laws define controlled substances as:

  • cocaine,
  • heroin,
  • peyote,
  • gamma-hydroxybutyric acid,
  • ecstasy,
  • ketamine,
  • methamphetamines,
  • marijuana,
  • certain hallucinogenic substances, such as phencyclidine, and certain prescription drugs such as vicodin and codeine.

Criminal history considered

To further qualify for “DEJ,” one must qualify by not having the following:

  1. any prior drug-related convictions,
  2. had probation or parole revoked without completing your terms and conditions,
  3. participated in a drug diversion or “DEJ” program within five years prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense, and
  4. any prior felony convictions within five years prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense.

If the defendant does not meet the listed criteria, the judge will not permit “DEJ” and sentence someone on the following:

  1. any prior drug convictions,
  2. probation or parole revoked without completing the terms and conditions,
  3. participated in a drug diversion or “DEJ” program within five years prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense, and
  4. any prior felony convictions within five years prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense.

“DEJ” sentencing

After one enters a guilty plea to obtain “DEJ” through California’s Penal Code 1000, the judge can select the drug diversion program plan and waive judgment. If this is done, a local probation department looks into what treatment plan would be best for the offender. The department considers the person’s age; education level; employment records; family life; and any prior drug treatment. The judge will consider the department’s recommendation and select a treatment plan.

Once the program has been complete, Penal Code 1000 allows the court to forgive the charge or charges. However, judgment still could result if the individual did not adhere to the program or benefit from it or committed an additional crime.

Alternative “DEJ” programs in California

The State of California offers additional “DEJ” programs. These are drug court and Proposition 36. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help his or her client select which program would be best suited to try to obtain by the judge.

Proposition 36 also is a “DEJ” program and is appropriate for those who may have been convicted of a more serious felony. Participating in Proposition 36 also must include formal probation, according to California law. Once complete, a judge still has the option to continue forward with sentencing or allow the charge or charges to be dismissed.

California drug court is another “DEJ” program option. This program is allowable through Penal Code 1000.5. Completing this program also may result in charges being dismissed. To participate in this program, however, a person does not have to plead guilty to the charge or charges.