The Illicit Drug Diversion Program is a system that seeks to address a defendant’s drug use whilst in the early stages and reduce any further drug-related offending. Anyone who pleads guilty to an eligible drug charge in a Magistrates Court or Children’s Court may be directed to attend and complete a drug and education assessment and education session.
If you are being dealt with in the Magistrates Court, the Magistrate will sentence you to a good behaviour order, which is an agreement between you and the court that you will be of good behaviour for a period of time. There will be a recognisance attached to that order, which is a sum of money that you will be required to pay if you breach the order. They will include as a condition that you attend and participate in the drug assessment and education session.
If you have been dealt with in the Children’s Court, the Magistrate will direct you to attend a drug assessment and education session on a particular date without the requirement to enter into a good behaviour order.
Who is eligible for this program?
To be eligible for the Drug Diversion Program, you must have been charged with at least one of the following offences under the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 (‘DMA’).
- Possessing a dangerous drug (if it was for personal use and the quantity is less than the prescribed quantity in schedule 1 of Penalties and Sentences Regulation 2015.)
- Possessing anything used in connection with the commission of a crime under Part 2 of the DMA (if it was for personal use)
- Possess things used for administration, consumption or smoking of a dangerous drug
- Failure to take reasonable care of syringe
- Failure to dispose of a syringe
You must also:
- Plead guilty to all offences
- Not have been given two previous diversion alternatives (includes police diversion)
- Have no pending charges or convictions for offences of a sexual nature or certain drug offences dealt with on indictment.
The law also states that a police officer must offer a person the opportunity to participate in a drug diversion assessment program if the person:
- Has been charged or is being questioned by police about a minor drug offence; and
- Has not committed another indictable offence in circumstances that are related to the minor drugs offence; and
- Has not previously been sentenced to a term of imprisonment for trafficking, supply or producing drugs; and
- Has not previously been convicted of an offence involving violence; and
- During an electronically recorded interview, they admit to the offence; and
- The person has not been offered the opportunity to participate in a drug diversion assessment program
If the police refer you to participate in the program, you will not be required to attend court for the matter and instead will be given a written requirement to attend ad participate in the session. If you fail to attend the session at the agreed time, you will be charged with failure to comply with the requirement of a police officer and be required to attend court for that matter.
About the Program
The session overall lasts no more than two hours and can be completed in person or over the phone. If the program is conducted in person, the session may be one-on-one or in a group session. You are allowed to bring a support person with you to the session, but you are not able to bring children.
It is important that you arrive to the program on time, as the counsellor may not see you if you are late. Usually, the sessions are not able to be rescheduled as they are court ordered and are to be followed. However, you may be able to apply to a Referral and Support Services Officer who may consider rescheduling your session. You would be required to provide documents to explain why you cannot attend, such as a medical certificate or a letter from an employer to show the reason was out of your control.
You are only required to complete one session to comply with your court order.
If you do any of the following, you may be in breach of your court order (if you were referred by the Magistrate):
- Do not attend the drug assessment and education session on time
- Do not participate in the session to a satisfactory level
- Attend the sessions under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
If you breach your court order, your matter may be returned to court. If so, you will receive a notice of the court date in the mail. It is likely that the Magistrate will forfeit the recognisance order and resentence you for your original offences. If you fail to attend court, there may be a warrant issued for your arrest.
If you were referred by police, as stated above, failure to attend will result in a charge of failure to comply with the requirement of a police officer.
This post contains general advice only and is not intended as legal advice.