Drug possession of any kind usually results in a felony charge in Florida, except for possession of equal too or less than twenty (20) grams of marijuana. If you were charged with drug possession, you may be eligible for a pretrial diversion program. Successful completion of the Pretrial Diversion Program results in the dismissal or nolle prose of the drug offense.
In June 2019, the Assistant State Attorney in Orange County announced her intent to expand drug diversion programs. This would severely limit the impact of drug offenses on individuals. The reason for this was that there was ample evidence that the states manner of prosecuting and punishing drug offenses failed to reduce the levels of drug use in Orange County. Therefore, in August 2019, the State Attorney for Orange County rolled out a Drug Diversion Program. It has three tiers. Below is a brief review of the three tiers:
Level 1 Drug Diversion Program
- Eligible Offenses: Possession of Misdemeanor Amount of Cannabis, and for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
- Program Eligibility: A prior criminal history is not a bar to participation.
- Actions Required: You are required to attend a free online drug education course through the state.
- Purpose: The purpose is to provide education to individuals on the law of illicit drugs and potential dangers of drugs.
Level 2 Drug Diversion Program
- Eligible Offenses:
- Simple possession of illegal narcotics.
- Possession of cannabis (misdemeanor or felony amounts) with intent to sell.
- Purchase of illegal narcotics.
- Obtaining or attempting to obtain illegal narcotics by fraud.
- Possession of a Controlled Substance without Prescription.
- Program Eligibility: A prior criminal history may be a bar to participation.
- Actions Required: You are required to sign a Level Two Drug Diversion Program Contract, complete community service hours, and complete a substance abuse court or assessment. You may also be required to waive your right to speedy trial.
- Purpose: The purpose is to educate and allow the individual to discuss their personal situation with a trained and qualified professional. The reasoning is the drugs that fall under this program are highly addictive and dangerous.
Level 3 Drug Diversion Program
- Eligible Offenses:
- Most misdemeanors
- Misdemeanor DUI’s
- Third Degree Felony
- Second Degree Felony’s (in some cases)
- Program Eligibility: Legal residence in the United States and approval by the Office of the State Attorney. For DUI’s, you must have no prior alcohol related driving offense, no collisions, no prior participation in a DUI diversion program, and no dangerous driving patterns.
- Actions Required: You are required to sign a Level Three Drug Diversion Program Contract. You must waive your right to speedy trial, follow the program requirements and sanctions ordered by the Drug Court.
- Purpose: The purpose is to provide individualized rehabilitative services and treatment to people who suffer from drug addiction.
The pretrial diversion program you qualify for depends on your criminal history, current charges, and treatment needs. If you were charged with a drug offense in Florida, it is important you hire an attorney who is knowledgeable about pretrial diversion programs and other legal mechanisms that impact your case.