Individuals charge with drug possession in Connecticut (but not sale) are eligible for a diversionary program, the Pretrial Drug Education and Community Service Program. Completion of the program, which includes drug treatment and community service, allows the charges to be dismissed. The program operates in much the same way as most of our other diversionary programs. A criminal defendant applies for the program before the court and is referred for an evaluation. The case is continued to a second stage for the evaluation to completed and the applicant's eligibility to be determined. At the second stage the court decides to grant or deny the program. If granted, the defendant is ordered to complete a drug education or treatment program and also to do community service. The case is continued for up to a year. If all requirements are complete and there are no other problems (such as new charges), the court will likely dismiss the charges.
Diversionary programs are discretionary. Courts can and do deny applicants who are eligible for various reasons. Even when I have what looks to be a good case for the program, I still make sure my client is eligible and argue for his or her admission to the program. My involvement doesn't end with the granting of a program. I work to make sure my clients are successful and help them find and document their community service and treatment if necessary. On more than one occasion I've had to get clients back into the program after they were thrown out for noncompliance.