For many persons charged with possession, it is their first offence and the amount of drugs on them is in a small quantity. If the offence is on the lower end of the spectrum of severity, there are programs available which generally allow the person to avoid court convictions. Currently, there are two drug diversion programs in Queensland, being the Drug Diversion Assessment Program (DDAP) and Court Ordered Diversion.
These programs aim to divert minor drug offenders away from the Court system, by referring offenders to relevant drug education sessions. Diversion is provided as an alternative to the other penalties available to the Court, such as issuing a fine or imposing a community-based order.
Drug Diversion Assessment Program (DDAP)
Police will offer DDAP to offenders as an alternative to issuing a formal charge against them. You will be eligible to attend DDAP provided:-
- You are questioned regarding a minor drug offence involving possession of cannabis;
- You have made admissions in relation to the offence; and
- You have not been previously offered DDAP.
The Police are required to explain the requirements of DDAP to you, and, you must agree to participate in the program. If you refuse to participate, the Police may formally charge you and bring you before the Court system. If you do agree to participate in DDAP, you will be required to attend a drug education session as directed by the Police.
Court Ordered Diversion
Unlike DDAP which is offered before Court proceedings, Court Ordered Diversion is a program offered directly by the court after you have been charged with the offence. You are eligible for Court Ordered Diversion provided:-
- You have been charged with an eligible offence;
- You plead guilty to the offence; and
- You have not participated in a previous program.
You will not be eligible if you have previously been convicted of a violent offence, an offence of sexual nature or a drug related offence that was dealt with on indictment (in the District or Supreme Court).
What are Eligible Offences?
You will only be offered diversion if you have been charged with an eligible offence. There are two eligible offences:-
- Possession of a dangerous drug; and
- Possession of a thing used in connection with the administration or consumption of a dangerous drug (commonly referred to as possession of utensils).
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To be eligible, the dangerous drug in your possession must be for your own personal use and must not exceed a particular quantity.
What happens if I am ordered to attend drug diversion?
If you are eligible for drug diversion, the Court will ask whether you wish to participate in this program. If you are willing to participate, you will be placed on a Recognisance Order requiring you to attend the allocated session. If you attend, the Order will expire, and no further court action will be brought against you. However, if you fail to attend the session, the recognisance (a sum of money you are required to pay) will be forfeited and you will be brought before the Court on the original offence.
How Does Drug Diversion Help Me?
The participation is these programs benefits you greatly, as no conviction will be recorded against you for the offence and the education received is likely to reduce your chances of reoffending.