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Options for First Offense Drug Offenders

Orange County and Osceola County have a new drug diversion program. So, this program is targeted at the folks that are basically first offenders, maybe a few little scatterings of a criminal history won't kill you on this deal, but you're new to the drug arrest scene and if you qualify--you can get your case dropped.

That's what "diversion" means: do a few things, qualify = case dismissed, case dropped. I think everybody wants their case dropped, this is one way to do it.

Orange and Osceola Counties have three levels to their new drug diversion program, so I want to briefly run down the three levels with you.

Level One is for one charge, and one charge only, and that is misdemeanor weed charges. If you possessed under 20 grams of cannabis, Level One is for you. This is the easiest diversion program I've seen in my 26 years of defending criminal cases.

All you have to do is hop online, watch a program for one hour. I watched it, its not even an hour long. Watch this thing and print out the certificate at the end--you don't even pay for this. Don't take out your credit card, I mean, just go and watch it and print the certificate. Your attorney then finagles that with the prosecutor and your charges are dropped. Your weed charge is dismissed. that's a beautiful thing, that's what we call Level One. Of course, it takes about 8 months to a year to erase this criminal history on an expunge, but expunge is a topic for another day.

Alright, Level Two in this program is also wonderful. Level Two is devoted to felony drug charges. I mean possession of cocaine, possession of heroin, possession of meth, Xanax, and any other felony drug you can think of--its covered under Level Two diversion.

So, you Level 2 folks aren't getting away with a one hour class that the weed people got away with but you're not doing half bad. Here's what you've got to do, three major things and your felony is thrown out of court.

First, take a four hour online class.

Second, do a two hour substance abuse one-on-one type drug eval situation.

And then third, you've got to do four hours of community service. not the end of the world. Give proof of all of this to your attorney and your felony will be dismissed.

One of the cool things about the new program that we've never seen before is, for you folks that are charged with possession with intent to sell or deliver -- that charged used to be not eligible for diversion but now it is. So this is a beautiful thing and I want you to take advantage of it, if your attorney can get you into it.

The Level Three diversion, by the way, you've heard about this (or maybe you haven't), but Level Three diversion is just the old Drug Court program that we've always had. Drug Court is one of the best drug treatment programs on Earth except that, if you don't need drug treatment then its kind of torture. The drug court program will determine whether or not you belong there. Some people don't belong getting treatment. Other people have a problem with drugs and they do need treatment. I'm not qualified to determine whether you have a problem or not but that's why they have certified counselor folks that ask you a bunch of questions and figure out whether you can or cannot get into the drug court program in Orange and Osceola County.

Those are the three levels of Orange County and Osceola County's new drug diversion programs. I encourage you to talk to your lawyer about it and if its a good fit--get into one of these things, take advantage before they're gone.

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