Deferred Entry of Judgment - Drug Cases
California law is tough on drug offenders, punishing those convicted of possession, trafficking, or manufacturing controlled substances. However, you may qualify for Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ) for a drug offense, which provides considerable benefits over a conviction.
How Deferred Entry of Judgment WorksDEJ is a program established under California law that allows eligible drug offenders to obtain treatment and education instead of incarceration, with a goal to rehabilitate the accused. Qualifying individuals plead guilty or no contest to drug charges, and then are placed on probation for a designated time period. They must also engage in court-approved counseling and drug education sessions. Upon successful completion of the program, the charges are dismissed without appearing on the person's criminal record.
Eligibility for DEJ depends upon two factors, and you must meet both:
1. The Nature of the Offense: DEJ is only offered for qualifying offenses as designated by law. Generally, only non-violent drug crimes that involve possession or usage, as opposed to trafficking, are included.
2. Personal Criminal History: You will not qualify for DEJ if you:
a. Have any prior drug-related convictions;
b. Had your probation or parole revoked;
c. Participated in a DEJ program within the last five years; or,
d. Have a prior felony conviction within the five years.
DEJ Implications for Qualifying CandidatesIf you're admitted into the program, you are placed on probation for a minimum of 18 months and must report to a DEJ Probation Officer on a regular basis during this time. This official will monitor your performance and compliance with the terms of your probation, which include avoiding additional arrests, attending drug treatment and education programs, and other requirements.
At the conclusion of your probationary period, the DEJ Probation Officer will report to the court. If the judge finds that you have completed the conditions of your probation, the charges against you are dismissed and are not included on your permanent criminal record. There are serious consequences if you do violate the terms, as your original plea was guilty or no contest. You cannot reverse your plea to not guilty, so you're facing severe criminal penalties.