Drug diversion in Queensland

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In Queensland, the two types of drug diversion include Court-ordered drug diversion and Police drug diversion.
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In criminal law matters, there are two types of drug diversion:

  1. Court ordered drug diversion; and
  2. Police drug diversion.

Queensland Courts can order drug diversion as a penalty, with the primary purpose of rehabilitation. The Queensland Police Service (Police) may also offer drug diversion to help people address their drug use and associated offending behaviour.

Court ordered Drug and Alcohol Diversion Programs

There are two Drug and Alcohol Diversion programs available through the Courts:

  1. Drug and Alcohol Assessment Referral Program (DAAR) – available to adults only.
  2. Illicit Drugs Court Diversion Program (CDP) – available to adults and young offenders.

The program provides people who have been charged with minor drug related offences, education and information about the harmful use of drugs and/or alcohol use.

Eligibility for Court ordered drug diversion

To determine a person's eligibility for court ordered drug diversion, you must complete a Referral Form. In that form, you must provide your details and complete the eligibility questions.

To be eligible for court ordered drug diversion in Queensland, you must plead guilty to one or more of the following offences under the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 (Qld) (DM Act):

  • s 9 – possessing dangerous drugs, with a quantity less than the quantity listed in Schedule 1 of the Penalties and Sentences Regulation 2015 (Qld);
  • s 10(1) – possessing things;
  • s 10(2) – possessing utensils;
  • s 10(4A) – failing to dispose of a syringe or needle;
  • s 10(4) – failing to take reasonable care.

A person is ineligible for drug diversion if they have had two previous diversion sessions by either the court or the police.

Conditions applied to Court ordered drug diversion

If a Magistrate orders a person to complete drug diversion, they will also make an order for a good behaviour bond. A good behaviour bond allows a person to remain in the community on the condition that they will be of good behaviour for the period of the order. There is a recognisance attached to a good behaviour bond which is a sum of money and must be paid by the offender in the event that they commit another offence whilst the good behaviour bond is imposed or they fail to comply with the conditions attached to the order.

There is a condition for offenders to complete the drug diversion session within a set period of time, for example, three months. Additional conditions include that you attend the assessment and education session on time, participate in a satisfactory manner and not attend under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

If a person completes the drug diversion and does not commit another offence in the set period ordered by the Magistrate, then often no conviction will be recorded, and the matter will be finalised.

If a person either commits another offence whilst subject to the order, or they fail to comply with the conditions imposed on the order, they will have to pay the recognisance amount. They may also have to return to court and be re-sentenced for the original offence.

Police drug diversion

Police are allowed to offer eligible persons the opportunity to participate in a drug diversion assessment program as an alternative to prosecution of their criminal charges. Police drug diversion is legislated under s 379 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (Qld).

Eligibility for police drug diversion

To be eligible for police drug diversion, a person must:

  • be arrested for, or questioned about, a minor drugs offence;
  • not have committed another indictable offence in circumstances related to the minor drugs offence;
  • not have been previously sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment for supply, trafficking or production of a dangerous drug or precursors;
  • not have been previously convicted of an offence involving violence against another person or if they have, the rehabilitation period under the Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1986 must have expired;
  • admit to having committed the minor drugs offence during an electronically recorded interview; and
  • not have previously been offered drug diversion by a police officer.

Minor drug offences are classified as possession of 50g or less of cannabis or the possession of a thing that is or has been used for smoking cannabis. Offences related to the production, supply or trafficking of cannabis are not minor drug offences.

A person can only be offered police drug diversion once. If a person who is offered drug diversion refuses or agrees to the offer but does not complete the program, no further offers will be made.

If a person accepts the offer to participate in a police drug diversion program, they must participate and they must complete the program. It they do participate at all or fail to complete the program in the manner and at the date, time and place agreed, then the police will investigate the matter, and that person may be charged and be required to attend court.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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