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Don’t Take Deferred Entry of Judgment at Arraignment

Don’t Take Deferred Entry of Judgment (Drug Diversion) at Arraignment

Here is the hypothetical: You get arrested for possession of narcotics or being under the influence of narcotics. You are scared and you hire a lawyer. The lawyer makes promises to you (that he usually can’t keep) like, “Don’t worry, I’ll get your case dismissed” or “I will take care of everything.” You walk into arraignment court with the lawyer and suddenly he tells you to plead guilty and take deferred entry of judgment. The lawyer tells you that the offer won’t get any better and the cased will be dismissed in under two years.

Some of this is true and some is not. Deferred entry of judgment is a program where in the case of charges of simple possession or being under the influence, if the defendant is found suitable and is otherwise eligible for the program, he would plead guilty to the charges, and sentencing would be deferred for 18 to 24 months. During the deferment period the defendant must obey all laws, perform a Penal Code 1000 approved drug education class, pay certain fees and can earn his dismissal.

So what’s so bad about this?

First, this is still a conviction for many purposes. The federal government and immigration service don’t view PC 1000 or deferred entry of judgment as a true dismissal, rather they view it as a conviction. Technically, even under state law, when we plead guilty and are found guilty based on our plea, this is a conviction, albeit a temporary conviction.

Next, if we are eligible for DEJ, then we are eligible even after the conviction at trial. It’s true that after trial, DEJ is discretionary with the judge, bad, we can still get it. Further, when we take into account that we are talking about misdemeanor crimes, it might be worth the gamble to push the case as far as possible before settling if necessary.

Is there a search issue? Let’s run a motion to suppress evidence. Is there a lying or heavy handed cop? Let’s run a Pitchess motion. Let’s generally try to do everything we possibly can to try and get the case dismissed or reduced. Let’s generally make it as difficult as possible for the prosecutor to secure a conviction. Maybe we can avoid a drug conviction. Maybe I can achieve my client’s goals without pleading guilty straight up to the charged crimes. Let’s try.

Then, if after exhausting all other options we are still not able to get the case dismissed or reduced, only then do we talk about pleading guilty and taking deferred entry of judgment. This is not to say that deferred entry of judgment is a bad thing for the defendant in a criminal case.

If you have questions about drug charges, deferred entry of judgment or any other criminal case, please call me, Attorney Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-5700 or (888) 764-4340 or email me: or visit my sites: or