When it comes to drug offences in Queensland, many of those charges are for minor offences, and most of those are for possession of small amounts of cannabis.
If you have been arrested over a minor drug offence involving cannabis by a police officer, they may offer you the ability to participate in a Drug Diversion Assessment Program (DDAP) in Qld.
There is also court-ordered drug diversion available in Queensland. While both rehabilitative and preventative in nature, the DDAP is not a court-ordered penalty. They also differ in nature in terms of who they are available to.
We share how the programs differ, the eligibility requirements and what to do if you’re offered the chance to participate in one.
What is a Drug Diversion Assessment Program (DDAP)?
A Drug Diversion Assessment Program (DDAP) is one offered by the police. It is a combined assessment, education and counselling session whereby you develop a personal plan under the guidance of a counsellor to stop using cannabis.
It is a program offered to people in lieu of facing criminal charges, or having a criminal record for a minor drug offence.
You are given one chance to attend the program, and if you opt not to participate or do not attend the scheduled meet, you will removed from the program.
You are breaking the law if you fail to attend once you have been accepted into the program; you may be charged with disobeying a direction or requirement of a police officer.
Who is Eligible For a Drug Diversion Assessment Program?
A person who has been arrested or questioned by a police officer about a minor drug offence involving cannabis is eligible for a Drug Diversion Program in Qld. It is not available to a person who has been arrested in possession of another drug, or for trafficking, supplying or producing cannabis.
You are not eligible if you have a previous conviction for a violent offence against another person, or have been offered a previous diversion program.
What is The Illicit Drug Court Diversion Program?
The Illicit Drug Court Diversion Program is often referred to ‘drug diversion’ in Qld.
It is a program offered as a sentencing option by courts to offenders who plead guilty to minor drug offences. The court will usually require you sign a document called a ‘recognisance’, whereby to good behaviour for a period of time. This document will outline the conditions of the program, which includes attending drug education session. These are available across Qld, typically go for 2 hours, and you are able to bring a friend if you wish. You also have the option of having a personal plan prepared by a healthcare worker for you to follow, however the only legal requirement is that you attend the designated education session.
Completing the program results in an end to the order and no conviction recorded. If you fail to comply with the program, or you commit another offence during the period of the order you will be in breach of the recognisance order.
If you are found in breach of the court-ordered drug diversion program in Qld, you may be required to pay an amount of money to the court. You might also be required to again attend court where you will be tried for the original offence and given a different, generally harsher sentence or penalty.
Who is Eligible For Court Ordered Drug Diversion in Qld?
You may be eligible for court ordered Drug Diversion in Qld if you are pleading guilty to one or more eligible drug offences.
These drug offences are:
- Possessing a dangerous drug— small quantity and for personal use. Only certain drugs are eligible for the drug diversion program. These can be found in Schedule 1 of the Penalties and Sentences Regulation 2005.
- Possession of anything used in connection with a drug offence, if the thing was for personal use;
- Possession of things used for the administration, consumption or smoking of a dangerous drug;
- Failure to take reasonable care of a syringe; or
- Failure to dispose of a syringe.
In addition, you must:
- appear before the magistrates court or the Children’s Court;
- admit guilt to the offence;
- not be currently facing or have previously faced charges of a sexual nature or a drug offence dealt with in the district or Supreme court.
You will also not be eligible if you have been offered two previous diversions. This includes a police-offered drug diversion.
More info about court-ordered drug diversions can be found here.
Have You Been Offered a Drug Diversion in Qld?
If you have been arrested for, or charged with a drug offence, have been offered Drug Diversion in Qld, or have beached a drug diversion order, we advise seeking legal assistance as soon as possible. Brisbane’s finest team of criminal lawyers at Guest Lawyers are here to help. We provide both legal counsel and representation for all criminal law matters in Brisbane and can provide you with the best course of action when it comes to drug offences, and whether drug diversion in Qld might be available to you. If you or someone you know would benefit from the support of professional legal practitioners, simply get in touch or call our Brisbane office on 07 3211 3007.