Unique Approach & Experience

Jeffrey Merrick has been practicing law in California for over twenty (20) years, with large national law firm trial experience and several years of criminal defense experience. He specializes in alternative sentencing through the California courts. He is also a professional interventionist with years of experience in the addictions treatment industry, which often comes into play in advocating for client recovery and other alternatives to criminal punishment. The usual form of punishment for criminal defendants, and especially those with alcohol and drug-related charges, is often lengthy jail and even prison sentences.

Mr. Merrick works quickly for a client facing criminal charges and will partner with that client and often with his or her family as well, proactively analyzing all potential charges and preparing the best possible defense. He knows that these charges often can throw a client and family into fear and crisis, threatening your rights, freedom, reputation, your record, the ability to move forward in an otherwise promising academic and professional career. This is why every client’s goals, concerns and plan of action need to be discussed upfront, alongside the legal issues presented.

Underlying chemical dependency and mental health disorders are often characterized by a high degree of resistance to treatment. This is so even where successful resolution of an affected loved one’s criminal charges may call for treatment alternatives to jail time. Through the intervention process, Jeffrey Merrick often helps families and friends reach loved ones who are extremely resistant to getting necessary help for themselves. Very few experienced attorneys are also professional interventionists and Mr. Merrick’s assistance often, to be most effective, draws on both areas of expertise and experience.

Having worked in and with the treatment and addictions professionals communities helps Jeffrey Merrick create solutions – known as alternative sentences – that are not solely designed to meet court approval but are equally well focused on achieving solid, long-term success for his clients entering recovery. He stays invested in the success of the clients and families he works with, and not only coordinates client care but establishes clear lines of communication with the treatment center, the prosecutor, the court and with probation.

Mr. Merrick is known for very skilled court liaison and care advocacy in the California courts and works with some of the best treatment professionals and recovery programs in the country. He brings to this work the spark of his personal long-term recovery and dedicates himself to helping families and clients transform crisis into health and wellness. Contact

Winning Strategies – Winning Cases   

Jeffrey Merrick knows that with today’s overworked and overzealous prosecutors, California criminal cases need to be challenged factually, substantively and procedurally.  There are requirements and protections that must be observed and which are sometimes overlooked – a technical defect in a search, for instance, a breathalizer reading that can be just as unreliable as a witness’ statement.

Not all lab results or police officers are trustworthy, and witness statements can be notoriously unreliable.   Sometimes otherwise reliable and even damning evidence needs to be tossed out of court because it was unfairly or illegally obtained.  Every person is entitled to a vigorous and aggressive defense to make sure his or her rights and civil liberties are protected.

Clients facing criminal charges in California need a seasoned and skilled attorney to explore all available defenses and to keep the prosecution to its burdens or proof, challenging every weakness and defect and ensuring that improper evidence gets thrown out.

Sometimes the largest criminal cases are won and even dismissed outright based on the most easily overlooked facts and evidence.   Often these defects become the basis for a greatly reduced sentence or plea, as prosecutors are much more likely to enter serious plea negotiations where the weaknesses of their cases are exposed and discussed meaningfully.

Jeffrey Merrick’s courtroom experience as a trial lawyer for a national law firm means that the cases that need to be tried go to a jury, and there needs to be a defense strategy and clear plan of action.  Once it is implemented, this plan of action needs to be adhered to throughout the case and through final sentencing.  Sometimes cases are won not through negotiation with the prosecutor but through skillful pre-trial law and motion work, artful and sometimes extensive discovery, and aggressive yet effective advocacy with the judge.

Alternative Sentencing Specialist

Jeffrey Merrick helps clients determine not only whether there are solid defenses and grounds for winning their cases, but evaluates as well whether there are alternative sentencing options that may be available. The good news is that these options are intended to be, and often turn out to be, life-changing for those who need them. Mr. Merrick’s experience working in and in close collaboration with the addictions professionals and treatment communities translate into court and probation approved treatment plans – creative alternatives to punishment that personalize his clients’ needs and situations with judges, prosecutors, probation and parole officers.

Putting a “face with the case” and advocating for client care can be critical in overcoming the biases against a client who is, after all, just another criminal defendant of several before the district attorney and the court on any given day. In terms of bias, keep in mind that the prosecutor doesn’t just suspect guilt – he or she is convinced by the time the complaint is filed that there guilt can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The courts are not social workers or recovery centers. Even when the charges are clearly explained by underlying addiction or mental health disorders the main focus of the prosecutor and the judge is punishment for whatever criminal behavior is charged. Sadly, many defendants who are severely drug, alcohol and mental health disordered commit serious offenses and, not surprisingly, they also get severely punished.

The bias is in favor of guilt and punishment and most defendants and their attorneys do little to present any real alternative or explanation for their behavior. Despite the presumption of innocence we are all guaranteed, the reality is that the judge for you or your loved one, and sometimes the jury, are going to have to be convinced of it.

Fortunately, alternative sentencing starts with another bias – the one in favor of treatment and rehabilitation and against criminal punishment. A skilled criminal defense attorney and former big firm litigator like Jeffrey Merrick presents creative, well-crafted and appropriate alternatives to punishment. He stays focused and in close collaboration with clients and families not just on the legal case but on the broader success of health and wellness.

Here, the real freedom of recovery can be the goal and the result for families as well as their loved one facing criminal charges. The usual adversaries in the courtroom can become partners in the recovery process, helping rather than prosecuting a loved one and bridging him or her to necessary treatment. Contact

Recognizing Opportunities For Intervention

Many defendants wanting to avoid custody and legal consequences just don’t want the real help they need in recovering from serious chemical dependency and/or mental health disorders. This is because for many drug, alcohol and mental health affected defendants there are layers of denial and the distorted thinking that come from many months and often years of unaddressed and worsening illness.

Legal consequences are usually ignored by these defendants and rejected just as summarily as all of the other unaddressed consequences of their choices and behaviors. Families and friends are often left feeling hopeless, especially when even an arrest and looming criminal case are not enough to get their loved one’s attention.

Criminal cases for these loved ones are often disguised and therefore missed opportunities for intervention — invitations to change that are usually accompanied by external motivators, powerful potential partners for a client’s recovery in the courts, probation, and even in the jails. Court approved treatment may not be enough for some clients – court ordered treatment may be what is required. Still, these defendants often are in their illnesses and cycles of addiction incapable of seeing the problem or any real solution.
Many families and friends find that they are ground to a halt at this loud and confusing intersection – the standstill where legal crisis, substance use and mental health disorder so often collide. Add to this the stonewalling of a loved one suddenly turned defendant who still cannot seem to agree that it is time to get help, even with an arrest, criminal charges, and the prospect of hard time. Sometimes that loved one runs off, or doesn’t show up for court hearings and there are bench warrants. Everyone stays stuck. The future seems dark, hopeless.

Here is where Jeffrey Merrick is radically different than most other lawyers and where having a talented interventionist and lawyer in one person can help families, friends and clients get unstuck. Where there is resistance to necessary treatment, Mr. Merrick believes that legal assistance should only be provided by friends and family to a loved one who is willing to accept appropriate treatment. What this means is that sometimes refusing to provide legal assistance is the best help for your loved one and yourselves.

In some cases resolving a criminal case without addressing the underlying addiction and/or mental health problem is not helping a loved one. It may be a grave mistake to remove obstacles, consequences and potential partners in recovery that a loved one’s life may literally depend on. Failing to address underlying addiction and mental health disorder, however common this may be in the criminal justice system, is not good lawyering. Missed opportunities for recovery, worsening substance use and mental health disorders, new cases and unnecessary time in jail are just some of the results.

Getting Unstuck

Intervention strategies and family and friend re-alignment are often necessary prerequisites to getting a loved one into the solution of recovery. Many loved ones are too deep in their distorted thinking and behaviors to accept the solution of treatment even when facing criminal charges and the very real possibility of jail time.

Legal help, as with other well-intentioned help that may be enabling an untreated addiction or mental health disorder, should not be provided to all prospective clients unconditionally. Securing an agreement to enter a treatment program may be a necessary first step not just to a legal defense, but to much needed recovery for your loved one turned defendant.

This can be critical where a criminal case can only be resolved with an alternative sentencing plan and a solutions-focused approach that addresses underlying disorder and the need for treatment. These are the cases where guilt and punishment may seem to be foregone conclusions and a loved one may seem like more of a criminal defendant than someone you know anymore. These are the loved ones so trapped in their criminal thinking and behaviors that even family and friends may be thinking jail and even prison are the only viable options. Often clients have lost so much hope for a better outcome that their families and friends are ready to give up as well.The reality is that most criminal defendants in jail and prison today have untreated addictive and mental health disorders. For most of these individuals their criminal records are getting more extensive as their illnesses and behaviors get less manageable and harder to treat.

Certain behaviors by friends and family members, however well-intentioned, may not only be unhealthy but harmful when a loved one is facing criminal charges. Often Mr. Merrick will join a family and friend team in declining to help a loved one until there is willingness to enter necessary treatment. Posting bail is a good example of what is quite often the first step in an unhealthy direction. Hiring a lawyer without securing an agreement of a loved one to help themselves is another common mistake. In fact, legal help without targeted and strategic intervention may defeat the chances of a loved one ever entering much needed treatment and all but assure jail time that is otherwise avoidable. Contact

Moving From Standstill to Solution

Intervention bridges the gap of seeming impossibility and unwillingness, bridging a loved one into the win-win solution – the one on which his or her criminal sentencing and recovery may equally depend. Sometimes this is the work of helping your loved one see that he or she is already at rock bottom rather than just leaving them there or hoping they get there themselves some day.

Rather than hoping this case or even jail may be what is required to get a loved one’s attention, the truth is that for most clients this will not be enough. There will usually be additional, more serious cases if underlying addiction and/or mental health disorders are not addressed through quality treatment. Just as these disorders get progressively worse, so do criminal behaviors and their corresponding criminal records and sentences only get longer without proper treatment.

Not making a choice can be a fateful decision – not just for clients needing help but for their loving families and friends who only want to help but do not know how. Concerned families and friends need to be careful and give serious deliberation to how they respond to a loved one’s legal crisis. At the same time, not all help is unhealthy and doing nothing for a loved one is rarely the solution. As with the disease of addiction, we don’t have to wait for cases to get more significant, for criminal thinking and behaviors to get more advanced.

Fortunately, skilled intervention, professional collaboration and alternative sentencing can come together, helping empower family and friends to bridge even the most resistant loved one to treatment. Prosecutors, judges and jailers can help just as much as a determined set of parents, a treatment center or a talented criminal defense attorney. Loved ones are not criminals although they in their disorders often act like ones. Loved ones who are in recovery stop their criminal thinking and behaviors, stop ending up in court and don’t have to end up hurting themselves, their families, or anyone else.

Consider reaching out for a confidential consultation and discuss options, strategy and next steps with Jeffrey Merrick. If he cannot help you, he will connect you with a valued colleague and professional who can. Contact

Do I Need A Lawyer Or An Interventionist?

Sometimes it is best to have both. Jeffrey Merrick is an alternative sentencing specialist who can help find solutions to California criminal cases that are alcohol, drug and/or mental health related. If you or a loved one have a case in another state, you may want to consider consultation with an attorney practicing in that state who like Mr. Merrick is an alternative sentencing specialist.

Even if there are criminal charges in another state, you may want to reach out to Mr. Merrick for a consultation if there is resistance by a loved one to necessary substance abuse and/or mental health treatment. Because Mr. Merrick is an interventionist as well as an alternative sentencing attorney, his help may be invaluable anywhere where a loved one with legal issues needs help getting to accept necessary treatment.

Mr. Merrick can help locate local counsel to address any legal issues that may remain after intervention and sometimes works in close collaboration with local counsel or the public defender’s office. Sometimes after successful intervention, a client does not need legal counsel at all, but rather the kind of skilled care advocacy and court liaison for which Mr. Merrick is widely know.

Often loved ones are more inclined to hear what a professional has to say, and this is especially true where the client is also a professional. Sometimes collaboration is what is required and Jeffrey Merrick is well known for creative partnership and teamwork not just in the California courts and legal community, but also in the national addiction professionals and treatment communities.

Many attorneys limit collaboration to a particular expert for the defense. Mr. Merrick brings into the courtroom the voices of treatment and recovery professionals, advocating for client care instead of punishment and maximizing external motivation for internal change. He prides himself on motivating clients and families to look beyond the challenges of any particular legal case, and to work together to transform crisis into opportunities for health and wellness.

Client success is too often these days weighed solely in terms of whatever legal consequences or jail time is ultimately avoided. Winning cases is what every good lawyer does. Winning cases without also helping clients and families succeed is not good lawyering. When a client stays sick and a family stays stuck, everyone loses and the cycle continues. Consider whether you and your loved one have been given an invitation to change in the form of a legal case. Ask yourself whether fighting for a better life doesn’t make more sense than fighting about it.

If you or someone you love may need help with a legal matter, intervention, or possibly both, give Jeffrey Merrick a call for a confidential consultation. He is also happy to assist in finding treatment and recovery solutions. Contact

Alternative Sentencing In California Cases

Alternative sentencing in California is most often available in felony and misdemeanor drug cases where there is no sales or trafficking allegation, but it can also be available in other types of cases such as theft cases and domestic violence cases. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges that could result in jail or prison time, it is critical that you seek the services of an experienced California criminal defense attorney like Jeffrey Merrick who understands the range and scope of the best alternative sentencing options.

Together you will explore all options and decide on a plan of action that meets your needs, consulting with your support network and family wherever possible. For some clients, this means partnering as well with recovery professionals and treatment programs who can help make a persuasive case for necessary care instead of jail. Mr. Merrick will present to the prosecutor and the court your best case and strongest defenses, identify and bring in partners in recovery for those who need it, and argue for whatever course of action is most appropriate for you or your loved one.

In many cases the net result is that a client’s “mandatory” jail sentence can be served without jail or prison time. For other cases, where there is some non-negotiable and unavoidable jail or prison time, significant reductions of sentences are not only possible, but probable when handled by the right attorney. Jeffrey Merrick often wins for these clients the approval of prosecutors and courts for creative alternatives to otherwise lengthy jail and prison sentences. Home monitoring and home detention, for instance, or time spent recovering in certain court-approved treatment programs, may qualify as time served even though little to none of it is actually spent in a correctional facility.

Alternative sentencing options are a win-win for both those convicted of crimes and the criminal justice system. This type of sentencing reduces overcrowding in jails and prisons, and helps give offenders, especially first-time offenders, a critically important opportunity to enter treatment and get their lives back. There are other benefits to consider. Avoiding all the damaging and lasting effects of a drug conviction on a client’s record, for instance. Sometimes a drug conviction turns that “dream job” into a non-starter. Or maybe it’s the final round of an admission decision at the college or graduate program you’ve been working toward, and the other candidate, the one without the criminal record, is the safer bet.

These long-term considerations, so often overlooked by clients and even veteran “DUI” attorneys, are of serious importance and need to be brought into your defense strategy from the start. Whether it is Jeffrey Merrick or other capable counsel you may choose, make sure you entrust your case to an alternative sentencing specialist, meaning an attorney who is highly skilled, well-versed and experienced in this particular area of law. Mr. Merrick is a well-known and highly skilled alternative sentencing specialist who will make sure you receive the maximum allowable benefit of the doubt, the benefits of all available rights and remedies and the second chance we all deserve.

It takes a strong voice in the courtroom to advocate for alternative sentencing, especially where today’s prosecutor and many judges are more often geared toward punishment than second chances and have a natural enough to expect bias against criminal defendants charged with drug offenses. Jeffrey Merrick will make sure the prosecutor and the court understand your situation, learn about all the positive contributions you can make to the community and your desire to receive necessary help if you need it. Mr. Merrick is also knowledgeable about treatment options and other more reasonable and productive alternatives to spending your valuable time in jail or prison. Contact

Alternative sentencing can be implemented pursuant to one of several formal programs created by California voters and the California legislature.   These programs get put in place through a plea agreement negotiated by a defendant’s attorney and the prosecutor in a given case, then approved and often supervised by the court.  Skilled attorneys specializing in this area know that there has to be some meaningful involvement and advocacy for client care by the treatment program the client has entered or wants to enter.  Here, liaison and care advocacy needs to be first rate and must be coordinated from the beginning of the case throughout the course of treatment by an attorney who, like Mr. Merrick, is knowledgeable not just about treatment but also about what the court, prosecutors and probation require.

The California Legislature has determined that drug offenders should receive rehabilitation and support in their recovery rather than criminal punishment in the form of jail and prison time, long-lasting convictions on their records and the stigma and other consequences of being branded a “criminal”, a “convict” or “felon.”   While this policy is the law and alternatives to punishment are specifically authorized, they are not automatic and will not be pursued in any meaningful way for you as a criminal defendant by overworked prosecutors or the crowded courts.

Alternative sentencing in California is not always an option for everyone.  Factors that a judge may consider in determining whether or not a defendant is an appropriate candidate for alternative sentencing that may preclude the defendant from being granted alternative sentencing may include:

  • whether the defendant has committed a serious or violent crime such as sexual assault, robbery, murder;
  • the defendant’s history of prior convictions;
  • crimes that involve the use of a weapon; and
  • whether the defendant poses a risk to himself/herself or others.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime or offense, alternative sentencing is not only an option for many misdemeanor crimes, but also for some felony offenses.  If the defendant is not a violent felon and has not committed a crime that prohibits probation, alternative sentencing may be considered by the prosecutor and the court.
The judge may choose to assign you one or more of these alternative sentences instead of the statutorily defined jail time for your crime.  It will be up to your attorney to offer the right combination of alternatives that the judge and prosecutor will accept instead of jail time.  It is up to you to choose the attorney who can best represent your interests and who will connect you with the best treatment program or other authorized alternative to jail.
The court will take into consideration the following factors, each of which needs to be presented by a skilled attorney like Jeffrey Merrick who specializes in this area and who can advocate for your specific needs and circumstances:

  • The defendant’s risks and needs;
  • The nature and circumstances of the crime charged;
  • The defendant’s history, character, and condition; and
  • The necessity of imprisonment for protection of the public.

If the defendant is granted some form of alternative sentencing, there are a number of ways that it can be carried out, depending on what is determined to be in the best interests of the defendant and the community, and in consideration of the type of charge the defendant is facing.  Some of the most common forms of alternative sentencing options include the following:

  • House arrest;
  • Electronic monitoring;
  • Community service;
  • Therapy;
  • Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings;
  • Drug court;
  • Outpatient or Residential Alcohol / Drug Rehabilitation Programs;
  • Supervised or unsupervised probation; and
  • Behavioral management programs to address anger, theft, violence, and other impulse control issues.
  • Deferred Entry of Judgment also known as PC-1000  (Section 1000 of the California Penal Code); and
  • Formal Drug Probation also known as Proposition 36

Plan of Action

Alternative sentencing programs can be a life-changing fresh start. Alternative sentencing programs help defendants keep their jobs, go back to school, and get back to their lives outside of jail. Their time is still served, but in more alternative ways, which often translates to more appropriate venues where they can get the help they may need.

These sentences are not automatic, however, and there are presumptions working against today’s criminal defendant, especially those with drug and alcohol problems. There are many prosecutors and judges more inclined to imposing jail time, and there are victims whose interests need to be addressed proactively and swiftly. It is important to partner early on with an alternative sentencing specialist like Jeffrey Merrick to present a persuasive case to the prosecutor, the judge and probation for alternatives to the usual criminal punishment which typically means jail and even prison time.

This is because experience has shown that the best outcomes are the subject of skillful and strategic negotiation, and it is critical to engage as early as possible with an advocate and seasoned trial attorney like Jeffrey Merrick who is knowledgeable not just about the legal concerns of the case, but who also is well-versed on addiction, intervention, recovery and on the type of treatment planning that will meet with court and probationary approval.

Facing the unknown consequences of drug charges often presents a client with serious obstacles to overcome in their personal and professional lives. With the help of a skilled and experienced attorney, the client succeeds and the case is resolved, often without any jail or prison time. Instead, the case is resolved through strategic partnership with the court, prosecutor and treatment professionals, and with the client’s needs and circumstances communicated clearly to all concerned. These are all aspects of a winning alternative sentencing strategy, but to be effective they need to be discussed with your attorney as soon as possible, ideally before the criminal complaint gets filed.

In addition to being an interventionist and attorney who specializes in this area, Jeffrey Merrick is a well-respected member of the addiction professionals and treatment communities, and will help bridge clients who need drug, alcohol and/or mental health treatment to programs that match their needs. He will assist you in building a treatment plan that will win the approval of the prosecutor, the court and probation. His goal is to keep clients out of jail, protect their good name and reputation, and ensure that they are able to keep their jobs, go back to school, and get that second chance everyone deserves.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug crime in California, or just need assistance in finding the right treatment program or addiction professional, please reach out to Jeffrey Merrick for a confidential consultation. Contact

Drug Charges in California

California has the highest number of arrests in the country of individuals possessing a controlled substance.
Often, if drugs are found in your possession you may be charged by law enforcement with drug sales (possession with intent to sell) as well, even if the drugs were for your own personal use.  The differences in the charges that can be brought against you for drug crimes are extreme.  You could be looking at a virtual slap on the wrist or several years behind bars.

Penalties for a drug charge are based on the type and amount of drug in your possession, intent to sell, or distribute, your past criminal arrests and the circumstances surrounding your case.

As discussed above, alternative sentencing is sometimes the best option to avoid or reduce otherwise significant time in jail or prison.  Other cases may need to be fought aggressively in court and may be won based on motions, plea bargaining once the weaknesses of the prosecution’s case are exposed, and some need to go to trial by a judge or jury.

A seasoned, knowledgeable and solutions focused criminal defense attorney like Jeffrey Merrick can make all the difference in your drug possession case.   He has extensive courtroom experience as a trial lawyer for a national law firm and specializes in the defense of California drug, alcohol and mental health-related cases.    As discussed above, his expertise is in alternative sentencing and he is known for providing clients, families and the courts with straightforward, creative alternatives to punishment.  Sometimes these are the solutions that not only keep a client out of jail but help him or her get their lives back.   For every client who recovers there is a family who gets a loved one back.   Contact

Under the Influence & Possession Charges 

If you have been charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance, a violation of California Health and Safety Code Section 11550(a), it is important for you to understand the elements of this crime.  The following is a brief description of the crime.

In order to show that you violated California Health and Safety Code Section 11550, the prosecutor must first prove that you “willfully” used a “controlled substance,” and second, that you were under the “influence” of the “controlled substance”.   Each of these quoted legal terms is further described below.

What is a controlled substance?

The essential element of this crime is the usage of a controlled substance. HS Section 11150(a) defines a “controlled substance” as a narcotic drug and substance defined under California Health and Safety Code Sections 11054 & 11055, which include the following drugs:

Stimulants
Depressants
Hallucinogens
Opiates
Methamphetamine
Heroin
Cocaine, and
PCP
A “controlled substance” can also be a prescription drug such as codeine, morphine, or hydrocodone if they are obtained without a prescription or not used in accordance with that prescription.

What is under the influence of a controlled substance?

A person is under the influence of a controlled substance if, after using it, “the substance has appreciably affected the nervous system brain muscles or other parts of the person’s body or is creating in them any perceptible, or abnormal, mental or physical condition.” CALJIC 16.060
Here, the prosecutor only has to show that you used the drug and are under the influence of the drug in any detectable manner. The prosecution does not need to show that you were impaired or that you engaged in any other misconduct.
To be under the influence of a controlled substance, the prosecutor must further show that your use of the drug was current, e.g., your use of the drug occurred “immediately prior to arrest.” It is unclear what the courts mean by “immediately prior to arrest,” but it takes a skillful and knowledgeable attorney like Jeffrey Merrick to develop and advance your best defenses when facing these charges. Contact

What is willful use of a controlled substance?

If the prosecution can show you were under the influence of a controlled substance, they must show that the use was “willful.”  This generally means that you intended to use the drug, e.g., your use of the drug was voluntary.  It is not willful use if for instance you are at a bar and someone puts a narcotic in your drink without your knowledge.

What is the punishment if convicted under HS Section 11550?

If you are convicted under Health and Safety Code Section 11550, it is a misdemeanor crime that carries the following punishments:

  • A minimum of 90 days to one year in county jail
  • Up to five years of informal probation
  • Drug counseling
  • Community service or labor

What are my defenses to a HS Section 11550 charge?

The most common defense is to show that you didn’t use a controlled substance. If the arresting officer fails to find a controlled substance in your possession and they fail to drug test you, your defense attorney can argue that you weren’t under the influence but suffering from some other physical condition that affected your behavior.
As mentioned above, if you didn’t willfully ingest a controlled substance because you were surreptitiously drugged by another then you didn’t voluntarily use the drug and cannot be convicted of violating Health and Safety Code Section 11550.
If you have a valid prescription for the drug and you used the drug in accordance with the prescription, you cannot be prosecuted for this crime.
If you or a loved one has been charged with violation of Health and Safety Code Section 11550, or any other crime, and you would like more information about your rights and options, please reach out for a confidential consultation with Jeffrey Merrick. Contact

What is PC-1000 Drug Diversion?

In PC-1000 drug diversion cases in California, also referred to as Deferred Entry of Judgment or “DEJ” for short, a defendant will plead guilty to the drug charge and the judge will delay sentencing or judgment of a finding of guilt for eighteen (18) months.

What Is The Timeframe for PC-1000 and DEJ?

For the first five to six (5-6) months the defendant will undergo substance abuse counseling and random drug testing. Thereafter, the defendant is placed on twelve (12) months of unsupervised probation.

If the defendant successfully completes the initial five to six months of counseling and testing and manages not to pick up any new criminal cases during the remaining twelve (12) months of probation, the case is ultimately dismissed and will not appear on the person’s criminal record as a conviction.

Who is Eligible for the PC-1000 Drug Diversion Program?

The PC-1000 drug diversion program is generally available to drug offenders who are charged with simple possession or being under the influence, and who have not had a previous drug conviction or to those who have successfully completed the PC-1000 program more than five (5) years prior to the current arrest.

If you are not eligible for PC-1000 because you are charged with a more serious drug charge such as Possession for Sales or Transportation of Narcotics, a skilled criminal defense attorney and alternative sentencing specialist like Jeffrey Merrick may be able to get your charge reduced to a less serious possession-related charge that may make you eligible for PC-1000.

What is Proposition 36 Probation?

In the Proposition 36 probation program, the drug offender will enter a plea to the drug charge and as a condition of probation. He or she will also be ordered to complete up to three (3) years of drug treatment and counseling as proscribed by the probation department.
Success in these cases depends very much on effective assistance of the attorney, as well as strategic partnership with the treatment program, the prosecutor, the court and probation. Most of all, success depends on the client’s willingness to commit to meaningful change. Sometimes, as discussed above, criminal charges are really an invitation to change, and the missing willingness to accept that invitation comes through intervention strategy and planning. Contact

Reach Out!

If you or someone you love needs help with any of these matters, including help for a substance abuse and/or mental health problem, and so often these days they come together, please know that there is a solution. Through creative partnership and teamwork, and aggressive steps in the preparation of a winning defense, there are not only alternatives to jail and even prison time, but sentencing that helps clients get their lives back.

Often this process starts with a family member or friend who wants to get their loved one back, and experience has shown that strategic partnership here is a highly effective form of intervention. External motivation for change may never again be so high and there often can be strategic re-alignment of current adversaries in the criminal justice system.

Skillful and experienced care advocacy can transform the prosecutor, court, probation and even the jails into effective partners in motivating change for the criminal defendant who is in truth not a criminal but rather your son or daughter, your best friend, your mother. Missed opportunity for intervention should never be an option. Very few attorneys, however skilled, are also professional interventionists like Jeffrey Merrick who have worked in the treatment industry and are in personal long-term recovery.

If you or anyone you love could benefit from some guidance and assistance, reach out for a confidential consultation. Contact