Court diversion programs can be accessed after a person has been charged and before sentencing takes place. These programs are available for most, but not all, people who are appearing in court and have drug-related problems. To take part in a program, they must plead guilty and agree to take part in the program.
These programs are:
This program is for people who are facing minor cannabis charges. The Police have the discretion whether or not to issue a CIR notice to an eligible person who has in their possession:
- less than 10 grams of cannabis or
- a smoking implement containing traces of cannabis.
To be eligible for the CIR drug diversion programs in WA, you must be over the age of 14 years.
You must complete a CIR within 28 days or elect to have the matter heard in court. If you can’t complete it within that time you can ask for an extension; however, this will only be granted if there are extenuating circumstances. The application form requesting an extension of time is available online.
If you complete a CIR, you don’t have to go to court and you won’t receive a criminal conviction. An adult can only undertake one CIR while a person aged between 14 and 17 years can be given two.
This program is for people who are facing charges that relate to small amounts of illegal drugs other than cannabis.
Police have the discretion to issue an ODIR instead of charging a person with an offence. If they accept the notice, they must attend 3 sessions with a qualified drug counsellor within 42 days. If necessary, ongoing support is made available after those sessions have been completed.
Successful completion means that the person does not get a criminal conviction.
Only one ODIR is permitted for each person.
If the sessions aren’t successfully completed, the person will be issued with a summons to court for the original drug offence.
These Opportunity Programs are early intervention drug diversion programs in WA which are designed to help people who have drug use problems.
They must plead guilty to the charge and it must be an offence for which they would otherwise receive a fine or community-based sentence order. Any person involved in the case can ask for referral to the program; however, the opportunity to participate is left to the magistrate’s discretion.
If referred, the person’s case is remanded for about 8 weeks so they have some time for the treatment to work. After that, they return to court for sentencing. A Diversion Officer coordinates the treatment process.
Young persons aged 10 to 18 years who are in contact with a juvenile justice team, and who have significant or emerging illicit drug-related problems, are connected with a trained drug and alcohol counsellor (a Diversion Officer), who will provide information and support to the young person. The Diversion Officer will also work with the young person’s family, and may be able to refer them to other support services.
Court Programs – Supervised Treatment Intervention Regime, Youth Supervised Treatment Intervention Program
These drug diversion programs in WA help people with drug use problems who are charged with moderate drug offences for which they would normally receive a fine or community-based sentence order. The person must plead guilty to the offence.
Anybody who has an interest in the case can request the referral. However, referral is at the magistrate’s discretion.
If successful, the case is remanded for about 3 months to allow the person time for the treatment program to start working. Throughout treatment, the person must:
- participate in drug and alcohol counselling
- present for urinalysis drug testing, and
- attend court at regular intervals.
At the end of the 3 month remand period, the person must return to court to be sentenced.
Adult participation is coordinated by a Court and Assessment Treatment Officer in the Perth metropolitan area, while in regional areas, it is coordinated by a Community Corrections Officer.
The program for young people aged 10 to 18 years is coordinated by a Court and Assessment Treatment (CATS) Officer.
There are drug diversion programs in WA specifically targeted towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with drug problems who have to go to court for minor offences. They can access culturally appropriate treatment through any of the usual court diversion programs or the Indigenous Diversion Program (IDP).
The IDP is available in some regional areas and is coordinated by local Indigenous Diversion Officers. It is similar to the Pre-Sentence Opportunity Program.
If referred to the program, your case will be remanded for about 8 weeks to allow time for treatment. After you have completed the Program, you return to court for sentencing.
The Drug Court and the Children’s Drug Court are part of the Magistrates Court system and were set up to manage drug cases where the offender is suitable for treatment.
The Magistrate will assess the offender for suitability, and, if you referred, will order them to participate in one of the drug diversion programs in WA. The offender must then return to court after sufficient time for the program to run where they will be sentenced for their offence.
This article reflects the state of the law as at 4 February 2016. It is intended to be of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please telephone 1300 636 846 or request a consultation at gotocourt.com.au.