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What Is Prop 36 Diversion in California?

Steven R. Andrade Sept. 30, 2021

Over the last several decades, federal and state policymakers have increasingly recognized the importance of treatment options for drug offenders. In many ways, California has been a leader in this regard. In 2000, California voters passed the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act (Proposition 36) by a significant margin. Most notably, prop 36 created a new diversion program for certain drug offenders. Our Santa Barbara drug crimes defense lawyer provides a guide to Prop 36 diversion in California.

Drug Charges: Your Guide to Prop 36 in California

On November 7th, 2000, California voters passed Prop 36 by a 20-point margin. The law officially took effect in July of 2021. It created a new path towards treatment and probation instead of incarceration from many people charged with drug possession. Here are four important things to know about Prop 36 diversion in California.

  • Prop 36 May Keep You Out of Jail: As a starting point, it is important to emphasize the basic function of Prop 36. It allows many drug offenders to avoid jail time related to an offense. If you are eligible, you can enter a Prop 36 treatment program and receive probation instead of any time in state or local jail.

  • Only Non-Violent Offenders are Eligible: Prop 36 is strictly limited to defendants facing non-violent drug charges. If you are accused of a violent act in association with your arrest/charges, you will not be eligible to apply for drug diversion through Prop 36.

  • You Can Switch to Diversion Late in the Criminal Justice Process: You have a right to raise a legal defense against drug possession charges. You do not have to opt for Prop 36 diversion at the beginning of your case. In fact, you could even take your case to trial, lose the trial, and still get into a Prop 36 program. In California, eligible offenders can seek Prop 36 diversion at any time.

  • There are Other Diversion Programs in California: Prop 36 is one available treatment program for alleged drug offenders. There are some other programs available, as well. As an example, California Penal Code 1000 may allow for deferred entry of judgement or DEJ program. A lawyer can help you determine the best course of action in your case.

Facing a drug possession charge in Santa Barbara County can be stressful and overwhelming. Even with California's expanded treatment and diversion options, you still have a lot at stake. With guidance from an experienced Santa Barbara drug charges defense lawyer you can be sure that your rights and interests will be protected every step of the way.

Contact Our Santa Barbara Drug Crimes Defense Attorney for Help

At Andrade Law Offices, our Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyer has deep experience handling drug possession cases. Beyond raising an aggressive defense on your behalf, we are also ready to help you explore every available treatment and diversion program available under the law. Call us today or connect with us online to arrange a strictly confidential case evaluation. We provide legal representation in Santa Barbara County and throughout the wider region.