Charges of possession of marijuana or hashish and cultivation for personal use will be dismissed by successful completion of Deferred Entry of Judgment. DEJ is not applicable to charges involving sales or possession for sale or transportation.

The defendant must plead guilty to the offense prior to trial. However, the conviction is not entered, and the sentence remains deferred pending successful completion of the court-mandated drug education program. After successful completion of an approved drug education program, the case will be dismissed in 18-36 months. The program requires about 20 hours of classes and may include drug testing. Medical use of marijuana may not be allowed.

The requirements are:

  • Defendant has no prior convictions involving controlled substances.
  • The offense did not involve a crime of violence or threatened violence.
  • No non-deferrable narcotics offenses were committed concurrently:
    – Not eligible if driving under the influence of drugs
    – Eligible if driving under the influence of alcohol
  • Probation or parole has never been revoked without being completed.
  • Defendant has not been diverted or previously convicted of a felony in the past 5 years.

The court will enter judgment if the defendant:

  1. performs inadequately in the drug program,
  2. is convicted of any felony or misdemeanor that reflects a propensity for violence, or
  3. engages in criminal conduct rendering him or her unsuitable for DEJ.

If the defendant fails in the DEJ program, the law provides for a possible alternative program, Proposition 36 (Drug Court, see next page), only for cases involving possession and transportation for personal use. If the defendant refuses or fails in drug court, the court will impose sentence.

Upon dismissal, the defendant can legally represent that he or she was not convicted, granted DEJ, or even arrested, except if making application for a position as a police officer or with the state lottery. Urine tests may be required.

Notes from Bruce:

On Large Cultivation Cases:

The D.A. may object to DEJ where they contend that the amount of cultivation is beyond personal use, even when possession for sale is not charged. Nevertheless, the defendant is entitled to a hearing before a judge, who may overrule the district attorney’s objection to DEJ.


There is considerable time and expense involved in completing the required programs. DEJ is a trump card, available to the defendant only once every five years. It should not be used without carefully considering the ways to beat the case or to plea bargain to a reduced charge, e.g. trespassing. Informal diversion (no guilty plea) is where the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the case, typically subject to completion of Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and it doesn’t appear on court records, unlike DE].

Non-citizens should consult an immigration attorney to determine the consequences of DE].

The Law Offices of Bruce M. Margolin, Esq.

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The Law Offices of Bruce M. Margolin, Attorney, is located in Los Angeles, California, and serves clients throughout LA County, including Santa Monica, Burbank, Long Beach and San Fernando.

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