Being charged for a drug crime can be a frightening and overwhelming experience. Because there has been a significant national shift in how law enforcement agencies prosecute and penalize drug offenders, many states and jurisdictions are now focused on rehabilitation rather than strict punishment. This means that there are often more opportunities for leniency and alternative sentencing.
Alternative sentencing options can allow certain, low-level, non-violent drug offenders – often those convicted of drug possession – to avoid jail sentences and criminal records by completing various conditions. Examples of the most widely used alternative sentencing options for drug crimes in California include:
- Proposition 36 – Also known as Prop 36, this initiative was signed into law in 2000 as a diversion program for nonviolent drug offenses. Eligible defendants will allow individuals to participate in drug education programs, outpatient services or residential treatment, detoxification services, and other aftercare services. When first or second time drug offenders complete drug treatment programs and comply with all other terms of their conviction, they will be eligible to have their charges dismissed.
- Deferred Entry of Judgment – In some cases, drug offenders may be able to obtain a deferred entry of judgment, which means that criminal charges and penalties will be suspended while offenders complete a drug treatment program. When a program is successfully completed and other terms are met, the charges may be dropped.
Although cases and penalties will vary depending on the nature of a crime, a defendant's criminal history, and other unique factors, our San Bernardino criminal defense lawyers always review clients' situations to determine if alternative sentencing options may be available. We will also work closely with clients to help them understand available defense strategies and counsel them on which path to take in order to achieve the best possible outcome.
If you or someone you love has been arrested for a drug crime in San Bernardino or any of the surrounding areas, Chung & Ignacio, LLP is prepared to provide you with a free case review so that you can learn more about your case and eligibility to pursue alternative sentencing options.