This past weekend, my girlfriend and I were out at the bars for a bit of fun. We wanted to keep the fun going past 2 A.M., so we decided to pick up a white energy supplement…and by white energy supplement, I mean cocaine. Shortly after leaving my “friend's” house, I was pulled over. Needless to say, my night did not go as anticipated and I was arrested. My court date is next month; what can expect to face at court on that day and are there any diversion programs to avoid jail?
Well, based on your question, it sounds like you may be in a bit of
trouble. Just how much trouble depends on a couple factors. First, I
hope you invoked your Miranda rights and did not answer any questions
posed by the police when you were arrested. Second, hopefully you
bought a small quantity of cocaine and did not have gratuitous cash on
you when you were arrested, as this may lead police, and the deputy
district attorney who will file the case, to believe that you possessed
the cocaine for sales in violation of H&S §11351, possession of
cocaine for sale.
For now, I will assume that you have been charged
with violating H&S §11350, which is simple possession of cocaine. Now, the
court date you asked about is what is called an arraignment. At this
hearing, you will advised by the court of your rights and what charges
you are facing, and you will enter a plea, either guilty,
not guilty, or nolo contendere.
In California, there are several
alternatives to going to jail for simple drug possession cases.
California Penal Code 1000 and Proposition 36 are two types of diversion
programs that defendants charged with drug possession may be eligible
for. To be eligible for P.C. 1000, you must be a first time offender
and not have any offenses involving controlled substances, whether
simple possession or sales, on your record. In addition, the charged
offense must not involve violence; your record must not have any
revocation of probation or parole; you must not have any felony
convictions within five years prior to the charged offense.
on the day of your arraignment, the prosecution will already have
determined whether the program is appropriate for you. If you do choose
to enter P.C. 1000, you must plead guilty to the charged offence. However, you will not be sentenced for 18 months, during which time you
will be attending your P.C. 1000 courses. If you successfully complete
the 18 month program, the case will be dismissed and you will not have a
conviction on your record.
Proposition 36, or “Prop 36,” is another
diversion program option available to you. Prop 36 is generally
available for first time offenders of any non-violent simple drug
possession or drug use crimes. To be eligible, you must not have any
serious or violent felony convictions on your record. However, Prop. 36
may be available if you have a violent felony conviction if you have
been out of prison for at least five years with no felony or misdemeanor
convictions involving violence for five years.
Further, the crime that
you are charged with must be simple possession of a controlled
substance, as Prop 36 is not available to anyone charged with possession
of a controlled substance for sale. Just as was the case with P.C.
1000, you must plead guilty to the charged offence, take an 18 month
course focused on drug treatment, and upon the successful completion of
the Prop 36 program, the case will be dismissed and you will not suffer a
conviction on your record.
Good luck–and now, cut out the coke!