The Deferred Entry of Judgment Program is a "Diversion" program for first offense drug defendants. Diversion is the procedure of suspending the criminal prosecution of an individual, by allowing the offender to complete a drug education, drug treatment, or drug rehabilitation program instead of further criminal proceedings.
Diversion has become a very popular method of alleviating congested court calendars, while at the same time allowing first-offenders to avoid the blemish of a drug conviction on their record. The DEJ program allows offenders to avoid a criminal record by completing drug education or a drug counseling program.
If a first offense drug defendant has an otherwise clean criminal record, judges generally will find a defendant eligible for the deferred entry of judgement program without requiring a formal eligibility evaluation.
Under California Penal Code 1000 (PC 1000) the defendant must agree to have his or her case referred to the probation department to determine if they are eligible for the diversion program. If the probation department agrees that the offender is eligible, the judge will set a hearing after the referral to the probation department.
At the DEJ hearing the judge will determine eligibility for the diversion program. If found eligible by the judge, program requirements will be described to the defendant, including the program length and the consequences of not enrolling or completing the program.
In court, the defendant is advised that he or she must plead guilty to the charges, and pay a restitution fee of not less than $100 and not more that $1000.
The defendant is advised that they are responsible for treatment, education or rehabilitation costs, and also for reasonable probation fees and costs.
The defendant is advised that if he or she successfully completes the program, the criminal charges will be dismissed and the arrest for the charge(s) deemed to have never occurred.
However, if the defendant fails to enroll in the diversion program or fails to comply with or complete the program requirements, diversion will be terminated and criminal proceedings against the defendant will proceed.