August 3, 2009 By Wallin & Klarich

In this article and one to follow, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000, also known as Prop 36, will be discussed. This complex and most interesting proposition requires that eligible people convicted of nonviolent drug possession offenses in California be sentenced to probation and narcotics treatment instead of incarceration.

In a Nutshell
Prop 36 is codified under Penal Code Section 1210. The law provides that a defendant convicted of a “nonviolent drug possession offense” must receive probation instead of incarceration. The court must order that the defendant participate in and complete a drug treatment program at least 12 months in length. If a defendant violates his or her Prop 36 probation, the determination of whether to impose a regular sentence depends on whether the violation is drug-related and whether it is the defendant’s first, second, or third violation. If the defendant successfully completes the treatment program, the court must dismiss the charge.

Eligible Offenses
Nonviolent drug possession offense means the unlawful personal use, possession for personal use or transportation for personal use of nearly all controlled substances, including cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. They may be either felonies or misdemeanors.

Possession of drugs in jail and prison are specifically excluded from Prop 36. Also excluded are individuals convicted of possession for sale, or manufacturing of any controlled substance or transportation for non-personal use. Nor does the cultivation of marijuana qualify. Neither does opening or maintaining a place for selling, giving away or using controlled substances.

If You Have Been Convicted of a Drug Offense
As you can see, there are various technical circumstances that can make the difference between serving time in jail, or being afforded an alternative drug diversion program. If you are looking for a skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who will aggressively defend your rights and keep you informed, then Wallin & Klarich can help protect your rights. Call us today at 1-888-280-6839 for a case evaluation or visit our website at

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