Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ) = Dismissal
PC §1000 & 100.94 (LA County)
Charges for the possession of marijuana or hashish and for the cultivation of marijuana for personal use can be dismissed through successful completion of Deferred Entry of Judgment. DEJ is not applicable to charges involving possession for sale or transportation unless the marijuana is for personal use. The defendant must plead guilty to the offense prior to trial; however, the conviction is not entered, and the sentence remains deferred pending successful completion of the court mandated drug education program. After successful completion of an approved drug education program, the case will be dismissed in 18-36 months. The program requires about 20 hours of classes and may include drug testing.
The Requirements For Eligibility:
- The defendant has no prior convictions involving controlled substances
- The defendant did not involve a crime of violence or threatened violence
- Non deferrable narcotics offenses must have been committed concurrently
- Probation or parole has never been revoked without being completed
- The defendant has not been previously diverted in the past five years
- The defendant has not had any felony convictions within the last 5 years
The Court Will Enter Judgment If The Defendant:
- Performs inadequately in the drug program
- Is convicted of any felony or misdemeanor that reflects a propensity for violence • Engages in any criminal conduct rendering him or her unsuitable for DEJ
If the defendant fails the DEJ program, the law allows and provides him/her a possible alternative program. Proposition 36 is only used for cases involving possession and transportation for personal use. If the defendant refuses or fails in drug court, the court will impose a sentence.
Upon dismissal, the defendant can legally assert that he or she was not convicted, granted DEJ, or even arrested, except when applying for a position as a police officer or the state lottery. Note, DEJ will not protect non-citizens, even those with green cards, from deportation if more than 30 grams were involved in the crime.
DEFERRED ENTRY OF JUDGMENT IS NOT A FREE RIDE. It involves a considerable time and expense to complete the required programs. DEJ is a trump card, available to the defendant only once every five years. It should not be used without carefully considering the ways to beat the case or to plea bargain to an alternative offense (e.g. “Trespassing” PC §602 or “Disturbing the Peace” PC §415) as an infraction. Informal diversion requires no guilty plea and means that the prosecutor agrees to conditions like a mandatory completion of Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and then dismissing the case. Prop 36 may still be an alternative after conviction.
Under the DEJ program, drug testing can be imposed. Dirty tests (the absence of THC reduction) will be the grounds for entry of conviction and imposing the sentence. Some organizations that oversee the programs do not drug test. The law is not settled regarding a patient’s rights to use medicinal marijuana on DEJ. However, note that recent case law provided patient eligibility for treatment under Prop 36 and is a good argument for DEJ patients. Medical marijuana patients are eligible for Prop 36 treatment. See People v. Beaty (2010) 181 Ca App 4th, p.644.