If you’ve been charged with a controlled substance possession offense, you may want to consider diversion options for first time drug offenders in Seattle. When you enter a diversion program such as the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), you get help with your substance abuse issues instead of getting punished for them. With this particular program, it’s up to the arresting officer to decide whether to book you in jail or to set you up with a case worker.

A drug charge on your record can be a serious setback. In addition to criminal penalties such as fines and jail time, you will have to deal with the consequences of having a criminal record. A drug conviction can affect your employment, housing, education, immigration status, and parental rights. For this reason, you should contact a Seattle criminal defense lawyer to help you get a good case resolution. If you are being charged with a drug crime, call Emerald City Law Group today 206-973-0407 or use our online contact form.

Seattle Is Expanding Its Diversion Program for Low Level Drug Offenders

The LEAD program was first implemented in the Belltown district of Seattle in 2011. Since then, it has expanded to other city districts including Pioneer Square, Capital Hill, and the Aurora corridor in the north precinct. The LEAD program is also set to take hold in other King County cities such as Burien. In these communities, when a police officer arrests you for possession of a narcotic–whether marijuana, cocaine, or heroin–they may decide that your case would be better served with treatment instead of criminal prosecution.

Instead of taking you to jail, the authorities may place you into a government funded program aimed at providing you with food, housing, work, job training, education, and substance abuse treatment. The LEAD program works. According to a 2015 University of Washington Study, the LEAD program reduces recidivism by almost 60%. The program also saves the city money by avoiding needless criminal prosecutions. In 2016, for example, 83% of the county’s misdemeanor caseload consisted in prosecutions for the possession of one gram or less of drugs. By reducing the number of these types of cases that go to court, the city can save a lot of time and money.

King County Prosecutors Won’t Charge You for Possession of Less than One Gram

King County prosecutors announced in 2018 that they will no longer file criminal charges against anyone caught with less than a gram of any narcotic. The money saved by reducing the district court’s drug case load can be used to increase LEAD funding. In its 2019-2020 budget, King County has allocated $3.1 million to expand LEAD to other cities, and $4 million towards the maintenance of the Seattle program. The City itself has set aside $1.75 million from its own coffers to fund its LEAD program.

In 2018, the LEAD program had over 500 participants, and as King County increases the program’s funding, this number is likely to increase. Despite these advances, however, some people are still being harshly punished for violating Washington’s drug laws. Additionally, the Federal government has not amended the Substance Abuse Act, and federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors continue to wage their war on drugs–even in jurisdictions such as Washington where reforms have been made.

A King County Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

If you or a loved one has been charged with drug possession or drug trafficking, whether at the state or federal level, Emerald City Law Group can help. By intervening early in the initial stages of the criminal justice process, we can vastly increase your chances of getting a positive case resolution. You can also help yourself by exercising your right to remain silent, and using your right to legal counsel at the earliest opportunity. For a free and confidential consultation about your options, call us today at 206-973-0407.

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