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Arizona's Drug Diversion Program for Juveniles


Numerous psychological studies have shown that people learn from their mistakes better if something bad is removed from their lives when they do right, rather than adding something bad when they do wrong. There are also numerous social studies that indicate that locking people in prison or fining them thousands of dollars does not deter their criminal behaviors; instead, losing their freedom and chances to improve their lives only encourages them to commit more crimes. What good would it do, then, to incarcerate a youth who was accused of committing a drug crime?

Following this simple principle of reinforcement, Arizona has developed a Drug Diversion Program (DDP) that juveniles can take advantage of to avoid harsh criminal penalties after they have been arrested for a drug crime. In particular, a juvenile must be under the age of 18, have been arrested for a nonviolent, non-felony drug crime, most often drug possession, and have a clean criminal record. If the DDP is completed, the charges against the juvenile can be dropped entirely, disappearing from their history because it never turned into a conviction.

Drug Diversion Program Process

If a child is approved by the court to enter the DDP, they will soon be assigned a diversion officer. This officer will routinely meet with the juvenile to checkup on their behavior, ask if they are taking steps to stay out of legal trouble, and generally assess if the program is working. Visit frequency may vary from once a week to once a month, depending on the circumstances of the juvenile’s arrest and how likely the court believes they may resort to drug crimes again.

For drug crime infractions, the DDP may only persist for 6 months. For more serious drug crimes, it could last up to 2 years. Throughout the DDP duration, drug tests, sometimes randomly scheduled, will be conducted. If the juvenile fails a single drug test, they fail the entire program and can be penalized through juvenile court. If the program is completed without incident, they are allowed to reap the benefits, such as no jail time, no fines, no criminal record, etc.

Can Your Child Qualify for DDP?

Only certain individuals will be approved for the Drug Diversion Program and community supervision, despite the Judicial Branch of Arizona saying that the program was created to prevent all juveniles from using illegal drugs. To find out if your child’s case qualifies for diversion, call 480.418.0776 to reach Naegle & Crider Criminal Defense Attorneys. During a free initial consultation, our Mesa drug crime lawyers may be able to determine if your child can qualify, and what you need to do next.

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