I've been caught with a small amount of cannabis. It's my first time, do I have to go to court?
No, if you fit within the police drug diversion program. This program gives you the chance to attend the Drug Diversion Assessment Program (DDAP) instead of having to go to court being charged with possession of a dangerous drug.
The police have to tell you that you can go to the DDAP if all of the things below apply:
- you're arrested for, or questioned about, a minor drugs offence involving cannabis (that is, if you have 50 grams or less of cannabis, or you have a thing that is or has been used for smoking cannabis, like a bong).
- you haven't broken the law in some other fairly serious way (eg you robbed someone to get the drugs) in circumstances related to the minor drugs offence
- you don't have a previous conviction for some sort of violent offence against someone else
- you've said in a recorded interview with the police that you admit to having the drug
- you haven't been offered diversion in the past.
If you agree to diversion:
- the police officer must explain the consequences of agreeing to go to the DDAP
- you must sign a form accepting the offer and agreeing to go to the DDAP (there will be a specific date, time and place)
- the police officer must give you a written requirement to go to the DDAP and tell you that if you don't go you are breaking the law
Remember, for police diversion:
- you don't have a choice of going to DDAP if you're caught with a small amount of speed, etc. It's only for cannabis or something used for smoking cannabis (although if you do go to court you may be able to go through the Court Diversion Program)
- the DDAP is only for possession. If you're caught for supply, produce, trafficking of any drug, including cannabis, there is no chance to go to a DDAP
- you must admit to having the drug in a recorded interview.
I've signed the paperwork for police drug diversion. What happens now?
As long as you go to the DDAP at the scheduled time, you won't be charged with a criminal offence and you won't have a criminal record for a minor drugs offence.
The DDAP is a combined assessment, education and counselling session. The DDAP provider will work with you to develop a personal plan to help you to stop using cannabis. You can take someone from your family or a friend with you to the DDAP.
You only get one chance to go to a DDAP. If you don't agree to go, or you don't turn up when you were supposed to, you won't get a second offer (although diversion may still be considered by a court under the Court Diversion Program).
If you don't go to the DDAP you are breaking the law and you can be charged with contravening a direction or requirement of a police officer.