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California Penal Code 1000 permits for deferred entry of judgement for certain drug offenses. This provides drug offenders the opportunity to defer court proceedings for treatment and education about their addiction. Upon successful completion of a drug treatment program, the defendant may have the charges dropped from their record.
Typically, the defendant enters a guilty plea to the charge(s). If the judge determines that the defendant is a qualified candidate for drug diversion, he/she will postpone the criminal proceedings typically for a period of time ranging between 18 months and three years while the defendant participates in a drug rehabilitation program.
Sentencing for drug possession as well as for drug trafficking and conspiracy in federal court carries mandatory minimum sentences of five or ten years, based on the type and quantity of the drug(s). There are only two ways in which a Federal Judge can sentence a defendant to less time than is required by the mandatory minimum. The first is where the defendant qualifies for the “safety valve” under 5C1.2 of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. To learn more about the “safety valve,” please see my article entitled “The ‘Safety Valve’ in Federal Drug Cases.”
In April 2014, the United States Congress approved Amendment 782 to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Under the amendment, given the nickname “Drugs Minus Two”, the transgression levels for nearly all federal drug offenses will be reduced by two levels. On July 18, 2014, Sentencing Commission voted to make the two-level sentence reduction retroactive. The Commission’s decision to give retroactive effect to the amendment indicates that eligible offenders who’ve already been sentenced for federal drug offenses and are also currently incarcerated can ask the courts to reduce their sentences in accordance with the latest guidelines.