Deferred Entry of Judgment on Minor Drug Offenses
I. "Overruling" the District Attorney
Sections 1000 to 1000.4 allow trial courts to defer the entry of judgment for drug offenders who are charged with and plead guilty to certain drug offenses and who meet other codified criteria.
The purposes of the statutory scheme are rehabilitation of the occasional drug user who has committed relatively minor drug offenses and conservation of judicial resources. (People v. Superior Court (On Tai Ho) (1974) 11 Cal. 3d 59, 61-62 [113 Cal. Rptr. 21, 520 P.2d 405]; People v. Barrajas (1998) 62 Cal. App. 4th 926, 930 [73 Cal. Rptr. 2d 123].)
To be eligible for a deferred entry of judgment, a plea of guilty must be coupled with a determination that the defendant and the circumstances resulting in his or her arrest satisfy six criteria. ( 1000, subd. (a)(1)-(6).)
Included among them is the absence of "evidence of a violation relating to narcotics or restricted dangerous drugs other than a violation of the sections listed in this subdivision." ( 1000, subd. (a)(3).)
That assessment is made by the district attorney, who "shall review his or her file to determine whether or not paragraphs (1) to (6), inclusive, of subdivision (a) apply to the defendant." ( 1000, subd. (b).)
In a variety of contexts, most courts considering the question whether the district attorney's unilateral determination of ineligibility is subject to judicial inquiry have held the trial court has no power to conduct a judicial review of the determination.
See, e.g., People v. Brackett, supra, 25 Cal. App. 4th 488 [defendant ineligible even though not charged with a disqualifying offense]; People v. Covarrubias (1993) 18 Cal. App. 4th 639, 642 [22 Cal. Rptr. 2d 475] [same]; People v. McAlister (1990) 225 Cal. App. 3d 941 [275 Cal. Rptr. 229] [disputed factual issue whether cocaine was possessed for purposes of sale].)