Pre-Plea Diversion vs. Deferred Entry of Judgment

One form of Pre-plea Diversion is an informal agreement by either the judge, the prosecutor or both to continue or postpone a case for a determined period (usually 6-12 months) in order to serve community service and show your ability to “obey all laws”, after which, the case is dismissed per Penal Code section 1385, “in the interests of justice”. There is no admission of guilt, no “no contest” plea and no conviction. It is a great result.

Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ) is statutorily authorized for drug offenses under Penal Code section 1000 et. seq., or it can be achieved informally on other types of offenses with the consent of all parties. With drug DEJ the defendant pleads “guilty” and the sentencing is continued for at least 18 months. For this Penal Code section 1000 DEJ the defendant must complete a drug treatment program to earn the subsequent dismissal under Penal Code section 1000 et. seq.

On informal DEJ’s, after the “guilty” or “no contest” plea, the sentencing is often continued for 6-12 months and the matter is dismissed per Penal Code section 1385,”in the interests of justice” after successful completion of the previously agreed upon terms and condition.

Drug DEJ is a good result because if you are not sentenced, the matter is statutorily considered a non-conviction and a dismissed matter. However, keep in mind, that the Federal government (as opposed to the state government) still considers the “guilty plea” a conviction even if it is later dismissed per Penal Code section 1000 et. seq. This is mainly a concern for immigrants seeking to keep or adjust their status in the United States.

Informal DEJ is also a good resolution because it results in a non-conviction, but since it still may be considered a conviction by the Federal government it is not optimal.

Therefore, a good progression of successful results is the following: pre-plea diversion is the best, next DEJ, lastly a conviction with a subsequent Penal Code section 1203.4 dismissal. (more on Penal Code section 1203.4 in another blog).