As of January 1, 2018, California courts are offering pre-plea diversion in certain drug cases. The benefit to this pre-plea diversion, over the more traditional “formal” diversion, is that the defendant never enters a plea and, thus, is never actually convicted of anything. They can earn a complete dismissal of the charges without suffering a conviction on their record.
Prior to this change, and for about the last 10 years, California offered a diversion called deferred entry of judgement or “DEJ.” In the older DEJ diversions, the defendant had to plead guilty, sentencing was continued for 18 months, and the defendant would complete a drug-treatment program. If the defendant successfully completed a drug-treatment program and had no other arrests for the diversion period, the defendant could withdraw his plea of guilt, enter a not-guilty plea and the court would dismiss the case.
There was, and still is in cases not eligible for pre-plea diversion, devastating consequences for some defendants. First off, the federal government does not recognize diversions as a dismissal. Thus, for purposes of your FBI criminal background, even if your case was ultimately dismissed after successful completion of DEJ, the federal government still views that as a conviction. If you are an immigrant who is here illegally, or have limited status in the country, the conviction under federal law means that you are subject to deportation, denial of naturalization or exclusion from re-entry into the country. Additionally, people who hold certain licenses or security clearances could lose their jobs and/or licenses as a result of this conviction.
All for a minor possession charge.
With the availability of a pre-plea diversion, there is no longer any conviction on your record. The defendant simply waives his right to a speedy trial for up to two (2) years and the case remains “pending” while the defendant completes a drug-treatment program. After completing the program, paying court fees and avoiding any new arrests, the case is dismissed and the defendant walks away without any conviction, ever, on his or her record.
If you have been charged with a drug crime, contact attorney Ross Erlich to talk about your rights and options with the court. You might be eligible for pre-plea diversion, veteran’s court or a mental health diversion.
The rapper “2 Chainz”, who was arrested last June for possession of a controlled substance, entered a not guilty plea last week in court. The rapper was arrested for possession of codeine after he was removed from a flight at LAX when marijuana and a bottle of promethazine with codeine was found in his checked bag by airport security.
Codeine is a main ingredient used in the cocktail “sizzurp” which has been made famous by many southern rappers in recent time. Sizzurp is a mix of the drug with cough syrup and sometimes also mixed with Sprite.
2 Chainz is facing one felony count and up to three years in prison if convicted and sentenced to the maximum.
Many felony drug possession cases at the Airport court are those where people were possessing drugs in their baggage at LAX. If you have been charged with felony drug possession, possession of codeine or possession of promethazine, it is important to contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible. Under certain circumstances, simple felony drug possession may be something that attorney Ross Erlich can have completely dismissed from your record upon successful completion of the PC 1000 program.
In California, the PC 1000 formal drug diversion program allows those charged with possession of a controlled substance for personal use (without any allegations of violence) to have their criminal proceedings suspended for 18 months while they complete a state-approved drug rehabilitation program that consists of at least 20 hours of education and/or treatment. If the defendant successfully completes this program, and does not pick up any new arrests during the 18 month diversion period, the court will dismiss the felony possession charge.
This diversion program is seen frequently in cases involving possession of cocaine, possession of heroin, possession of ecstasy, possession of methamphetamine and possession of prescription medication.
There are other requirements and factors that are considered, but that is something attorney Ross Erlich can speak to you about during your free case consultation.
If you have been charged with drug possession in the Airport Court, drug possession in CCB, drug possession in Pasadena Court or drug possession anywhere in Los Angeles, contact attorney Ross Erlich today.
Federal prosecutors are no longer going to seek “mandatory minimum” sentences for many low-level and nonviolent drug offenders. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder plans to announce this major shift in the United States criminal drug offender policy today.
Holder cites the years of explosive growth in the federal prison population and the ballooning costs associated with this increase in incarceration. Holder further stated that too many people go to too many prisons for too long, and, a lot of times, for “no good law enforcement reason.”
Under Holder’s new policy, prosecutors would send fewer drug offenders to federal prison for long terms and send an increasing number of these offenders to drug treatment and community service programs instead. This change in policy also addresses a long-standing goal of civil rights groups who say that long prison sentences disproportionately hurt low-income and minorities.
The “war on drugs” that started in the 1980s brought about strict federal laws that required judges to impose long prison sentences on anyone caught with certain amounts of illegal drugs, regardless of the circumstances. The public’s demand for these long sentences has decreased recently as stories of unfairness and skyrocketing costs have become more apparent.
In other words, drug offenses look to be much more manageable in the near future. With the policy shifting on federal drug offenses, local offenders will also likely see more non-custody options associated with disposing of their case such as Deferred Entry of Judgement (DEJ), PC 1000, and Proposition 36. With the help of a skilled and knowledgeable attorney, many of these options can be made available to you and, if needed, effective substance abuse programs and rehabilitation.
If you have been charged with drug possession, drug transportation, possession for sale or with the intent to sell, contact attorney Ross Erlich before you go to court and before you make any statements to law enforcement. It is important to have a skilled attorney help you in the Airport court, CCB, Downtown Courts, Pasadena Court and all Los Angeles County courts.
13 Jun 2013
Rapper “2 Chainz” was arrested on Tuesday at LAX, according to reports. In fact, he was actually taken off a plane waiting to depart the airport after a TSA search of checked baggage showed the presence of marijuana and promethazine.
Reports state that the marijuana was less than 1 ounce, a misdemeanor, while the possession of promethazine got Chainz a felony narcotics possession charge. Promethazine is commonly mixed with codeine and juice or soda to create a very intoxicating drink known as “sizzurp” in the hip-hop community.
2 Chainz will likely be booked and then released on bond and given a date to appear at the Airport Courthouse for the felony and misdemeanor drug possession charges. While having a felony drug possession charge against you is serious and something that should not be taken lightly, there are favorable ways to resolve these cases which may even involve a dismissal of the charges.
If you have been charged with felony drug possession in California, you are most likely eligible for Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ) or what attorneys refer to as PC 1000 (California Penal Code section 1000). There are certain requirements that must be met before someone is eligible for DEJ. First of all, the charged violation must be for simple drug possession only and not for possession for sales or transportation and the crime must not involve any violence or threatened violence. Secondly, you must not have had any prior drug-related convictions, had you parole revoked without successfully completing your terms and conditions, completed DEJ in another case within 5 years of your current charges and you must not have had any felony convictions in the 5 years preceding the current charge.
If all of these elements are met and you are eligible for DEJ, you can enter a plea of guilty to the charges and have your criminal proceedings suspended for, typically, 18 months. During this 18 month time period, you must enroll and successfully complete a county-approved PC 1000 class, which is typically 20 hours of drug education to be completed within the first 6 months. After completion of the DEJ class, the court gives you the remaining 12 months to stay out of trouble and not suffer any new arrests, after which time your plea of guilty is withdrawn, a plea of not guilty is entered, and your case is then dismissed.
If you have been charged with drug possession, possession for sales, transportation or manufacturing, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. A lot of times law enforcement is looking to catch the “bigger fish” and can put unfair pressure on you to talk and make incriminating statements. Do yourself a favor and tell law enforcement to talk to your lawyer and that you have nothing to say to them.
Attorney Ross Erlich handles drug-related charges in the Airport Court, CCB (Criminal Courts Building), East Los Angeles, Pasadena and all over Southern California. If you have been arrested on drug charges in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills or LAX, contact our office today.
08 May 2013
The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday that cities and local municipalities may ban medical marijuana dispensaries within their territory. The Court stated that nothing in the current medical marijuana law restricts the rights of these local governments and cities throughout the state to declare medical marijuana dispensaries a nuisance due to the increased dangers of crime, congestion, blight and drug abuse in the community.
The problem was that under Proposition 215, the statewide proposition that allowed people to use medical marijuana as long as they had a recommendation from a doctor, there was never any mention of dispensaries, shops, stores or anywhere a patient could purchase their marijuana. What Proposition 215 stated was that people and their primary caregivers can grow or possess marijuana with a physician’s recommendation. The law made no mention about the availability of dispensaries or collectives. The Court cleared the way for cities to decide how much, if any, regulation or limitation of dispensaries they choose. For example, a city may limit dispensaries in a particular area within the city while placing no limits on dispensaries in another area.
Cities and dispensary owners have been in a years-long battle regarding what cities can and cannot due to limit the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries within their borders. Further confusion ensued when lower courts all over the state issued rulings that conflicted rulings in other jurisdictions. One only needs to look at the Los Angeles City Council who, at first, embraced dispensaries, then tried to regulate them, and then tried to ban them.
Drug possession, sales, cultivation and transportation are serious felony offenses in Los Angeles County. On the flip side, increasingly liberal drug laws combined with overcrowding in state prisons and local jails make the resolution of these cases by attorney Ross Erlich more advantageous to you, the client. Additionally, if you have a physician’s recommendation to possess or cultivate marijuana, that may also benefit your case.
If you have been charged with a drug offense such as simple possession, possession for sales, transportation of a controlled substance or cultivation, contact attorney Ross Erlich before you say something to law enforcement that you may regret down the line. Attempting to “talk your way out of it” usually does not work and, consequently, usually results in statements that are used against you. Attorney Ross Erlich handles drug offenses in the Airport Court, CCB (Criminal Courts Building), Burbank Court and the Pasadena Court.
The United States Supreme Court has given legal immigrants a break when it comes to convictions for possessing a small amount of marijuana. The Court has ruled that a conviction for this offense is no longer an “aggravated felony” that leads to deportation or removal from the country. The Justices said that the government must show that the defendant either sold the drugs or possessed a “significant quantity” for the crime to be considered an “aggravated felony.”
The term “aggravated felony” as used in this context is a classification used in immigration proceedings and does not always correspond to an aggravated felony in criminal court, as possession of a small amount of marijuana in California is a misdemeanor.
Under current immigration law, any non-citizen who is convicted of an “aggravated felony” is eligible, and most often proceedings are brought against them, for deportation. This occurs regardless of how long this person has lived legally in the country or how productive they have been. The problems started when legal immigrants were being deported for, what many consider to be, minor non-serious drug possession offenses and long-time residents and families were being broken up.
One of the biggest problems that we see is when a suspect has been in custody for a couple days, are transferred to Los Angeles County Jail and an immigration hold is placed on them. Thus, even if the criminal charges get dismissed, the person is still being held in custody by immigration officials and facing deportation proceedings. The best course of action is to contact attorney Ross Erlich while your friend or family member is at the local jail and get them out as soon as possible.
If you are a non-citizen, regardless of your current status, it is crucial for your future to consult attorney Ross Erlich if you have been arrested and charged with a crime, any crime. With the firm’s criminal defense experience, as well as the expert immigration resources, attorney Ross Erlich is in the best position possible to prevent the harsh immigration consequences that are so often a result of being arrested. Whether you have been charged with a DUI, petty theft, shoplifting, domestic violence, assault or hit-and-run in the Metro court, Airport Court, Downtown Criminal Court or Burbank court, these may have potential immigration implications.
Contact attorney Ross Erlich today for a free consultation on the criminal and immigration consequences of your arrest!