Casewatch: People v. Orozco: DEJ elgibility for DUI Drivers

Defense attorneys recently got a nugget from an appellate case, People v Orozco (2012) 209 Cal. App. 4th 726, which ruled that a client is not per se ineligible for drug diversion per Penal Code section 1000 because the client also plead to a DUI charge.

Penal Code section 1000 sets forth a diversion program, which if followed successfully, will lead to a dismissal of a client’s case.  Often referred to as Deferred Entry of Judgement, or DEJ, this program not only allows a client charged with simple drug possession to take advantage of programs and services which would ultimately lead to a dismissal their case, but success under the program also seals and destroys a client’s arrest record. This is extremely difficult in California to do without diversion.  Unfortunately, many people charged with simple drug possession were not able to take advantage of the DEJ program because of the simple fact that they also got charged with a DUI. This was not only a misreading of the law, but grossly unjust.

In the recent case of People v. Orozco (2012) 209 Cal. App. 4th 726, the Court ruled it would be error to find a defendant ineligible for the DEJ program based on the fact that defendant also plead to a DUI.  InOrozco, the defendant pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine, driving under the influence of alcohol, and driving with a suspended license. The trial court sentenced defendant to DEJ on the cocaine possession charge and stayed defendant’s jail sentence on the other charges to allow him to enroll in DEJ.  On appeal, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s actions and judgment.  While Penal Code section 1000(a)(3) disqualifies a defendant for deferred entry of judgment if he or she has violated another offense related to “narcotics or a restricted dangerous drug,” the Court found that a DUI not that type of offense, and ruled that alcohol-related offenses do not fall within the scope of section 1000(a)(3).  Thus, a client who pleads to a DUI is also eligible for DEJ as a matter of law.  It must be noted however that Orozco was ultimately terminated from DEJ because of his performance in DEJ, not the fact that he also plead to a DUI. (People v. Orozco (2012) 209 Cal. App. 4th 726).

So the next time your client wishes to enter DEJ, and either the court or the DA objects because they are also charged with a DUI, share with them People v Orozco.

 

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