What is drug diversion?
Article by Shelby Smith – Criminal Lawyer
What is drug diversion?
The Illicit Drug Court Diversion Program (more commonly known as drug diversion) is a sentencing option for offenders pleading guilty to minor drug offences.
This program allows the court to deal with the defendant by imposing a good behaviour bond with a special condition that they attend a once off drug information and education session. A recognisance amount is attached to the good behaviour bond, which you are not required to pay unless you breach the bond.
Drug diversion can be an excellent result for our clients because it means that the court cannot record a conviction on their criminal history.
The drug information session is usually 1-2 hours long and can be arranged at a variety of locations across Queensland. You can bring a support person with you to your drug diversion session.
Am I eligible for drug diversion?
To be eligible for drug diversion, you must be pleading guilty to one or more of the following offences:
- Possessing a dangerous drug— if the drug was for personal use and is a small quantity (which is prescribed in the legislation). Only certain drugs are eligible for the drug diversion program.
- Possess anything used in connection with the commission of a crime – if the thing was for personal use;
- Possess things used for the administration, consumption or smoking of a dangerous drug;
- Fail to take reasonable care of a syringe; or
- Fail to dispose of a syringe.
There are also circumstances in which you may be ineligible for drug diversion. For example, if you have had 2 diversion attempts in the past.
How do I get into the drug diversion program?
After you are charged, we will discuss the eligibility criteria with you and confirm your instructions.
We then recommend preparation you can undertake prior to court.
On the day of your sentence, we will make arguments to the court as to why they should proceed with the drug diversion program in your matter.
If the court agrees, they will formally sentence you to a good behaviour bond conditioned that you, amongst other things, attend and satisfactorily complete the drug diversion session.
Do I still have to pay a fine?
If the court sentences you to a good behaviour bond for all offences, you will not have to pay a fine.
However, you will still need to pay the offender levy. This is an administrative fee payable by adult offenders that are sentenced by Queensland courts.
For more information on the current amount of the offender levy.
What happens on the day of court?
On the day of your sentence (this may or may not be your first court date), you will be assessed by the drug diversion team at court to determine whether you are eligible. If you are, you will be booked in for your dug diversion session.
When your matter is heard in court, the prosecutor will inform the court of the facts. Your lawyer then makes submissions on your behalf as to why drug diversion is an appropriate penalty in your particular case.
The court will then formally sentence you.
You will need to sign the good behaviour bond prior to leaving court.
What happens if I do not go to drug diversion?
If you fail to attend the drug diversion session, you have breached your good behaviour bond. This can result in the following:
- You being required to pay the recognisance amount; and
- You being re-sentenced for the original offence/s.
If you were to be re-sentenced, the court may impose harsher penalties and record a conviction on your criminal history.
You can also breach the good behaviour bond by committing a further offence.
Do I need a lawyer to get into drug diversion?
Drug diversion is a sentencing option open to the court regardless of whether the defendant has legal representation.
However, engaging a criminal lawyer is beneficial because we will:
- Identify whether you are eligible for drug diversion;
- Recommend preparation for you to complete prior to your sentence;
- Advise you of your options;
- Make submissions to the court as to why drug diversion is an appropriate penalty; and
- Appear in court on your behalf.
Seek Legal Advice
While this article is intended to provide you with a guide of the general principles that operate in Queensland, it is not to be considered legal advice and may not cover important aspects that apply to your individual circumstances.