Back in 2000, California voters were tired of too many people being sent to jail for minor and non-violent drug offenses, so they passed the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000, or Proposition 36.
Proposition 36 (also known as Prop 36) makes it possible for those who are convicted of non-violent drug possession crimes to qualify for alternative sentencing so long as their situation meets certain requirements.
Instead of facing jail or prison time, individuals are often able to qualify for probation under the program. The program also requires successful completion of a certified community drug treatment program.
Qualifying for Prop 36
Prop 36 applies to "non-violent drug possession offenses," meaning charges of using, being under the influence of or possessing for personal use any illegal drugs, including certain prescription drugs. Therefore, only charges relating to "possession, use or personal transportation” qualify.
The following people do not qualify for probation and treatment under Prop 36:
- Those who have been incarcerated within the last five years for a violent or serious felony.
- Those who are convicted of a non-drug related misdemeanor or any felony at the same time.
- Those who were in possession of a firearm during the commission of the offense.
- Those who refuse to get drug treatment as part of the program.
- Certain people who have had two separate drug-related convictions and have participated in the program twice before.
Other diversion programs
There are other drug diversion programs in California as well, including:
- Drug court;
- Deferred entry of judgment (DEJ);
- Residential treatment; and
- Community service.
Talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your area for more information on avoiding jail time for non-violent drug possession charges. Remember that qualifying for these programs depends on both the severity of the charge your personal criminal history.