Deferred Entry of Judgment, also known as DEJ or drug diversion, has routinely
been offered to individuals charged with certain
drug offenses. In those situations, an individual would enter a plea of "guilty"
to the charged drug offense. Upon entering the plea, the judge would suspend
proceedings and the individual would have to complete a drug program.
After successful completion of the drug program, the judge would dismiss
the charges. Once the charges are dismissed, "the arrest upon which
the judgment was deferred shall be deemed to have never occurred".
This means that you can truthfully state that you have never been arrested
or granted deferred entry of judgment for the offense and the arrest records
cannot be used to affect employment or a professional license or certificate.
On January 1, 2015, Los Angeles County will be participating in a pilot
program where judges can grant DEJ to first time offenders charged with
a broad variety of misdemeanors. This program will allow judges, over
the objection of the prosecutor, to grant DEJ to an individual who has
submitted a plea of "guilty" or "no contest" to a
misdemeanor. The new program does not create a right to DEJ. Rather, participation
is entirely in the judge's discretion. Because there are no formal
programs in place to send individuals, the judges may impose whatever
terms and conditions it deems appropriate along with full restitution
(if applicable) and compliance with a court-ordered protective order,
stay-away order, or order prohibiting firearm possession, if applicable.
The sentencing period may be deferred for a period not to exceed 12 months.
As with drug diversion, upon successful completion of the terms, conditions,
or programs ordered by the court, the arrest "shall be deemed to
have never occurred". The individual may indicate in response to
any question concerning his or her prior criminal record that he or she
was not arrested or granted deferred entry of judgment for the offense.
Moreover, a record pertaining to an arrest resulting in successful completion
of DEJ shall not be used in any way that could result in the denial of
any employment, benefit, license, or certificate.
The new program prohibits a judge from granting DEJ to a number of misdemeanor
offenses. For example, individuals that have been convicted of any misdemeanor
in the previous 10 years, a misdemeanor involving force or violence, a
felony, or have already been granted DEJ under this new program are ineligible
for DEJ. Also, individuals that must register as sex offenders or charged with a
DUI are similarly ineligible for DEJ. Finally, anyone charged for using force
or violence against a police officer is ineligible for this program.
domestic violence cases, any individual charged with corporal injury to a spouse or former
spouse, cohabitant or former cohabitant, mother or father of the offender's
child, or someone the offender has or had a dating relationship in violation of
Penal Code section 273.5 is ineligible for DEJ. However, individuals charged with domestic battery
in violation of
Penal Code section 243(e)(1) are
eligible for DEJ. This may cause prosecutors to file domestic violence crimes as
Penal Code section 273.5 in order to avoid judges granting DEJ in these types of cases.
If you are presently charged with an eligible misdemeanor offense,
contact our office immediately so that you can take advantage of this program now.