Marijuana Diversion Program
Convictions for simple possession of marijuana can have serious and lasting financial and legal consequences, while failing to curb drug use or make the community safer. The Polk County Attorney’s Office prioritizes serious and violent crimes that harm identifiable victims.
To that end, the County Attorney’s Office offers those charged with first-offense, low-level marijuana possession an opportunity to earn a dismissal by successfully completing the Marijuana Diversion Program.
Q. Who is eligible?
A. The County Attorney has sole discretion in determining who may qualify and will consider several factors, including criminal history. At a minimum, the defendant must:
- be charged with first offense Possession of a Controlled Substance (Marijuana) and/or Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
- have not previously participated in the Marijuana Diversion Program.
- not be charged with another indictable offense arising out of the same facts and circumstances charged in the same or separate prosecution, or currently charged with any crime of violence, as determined by the Office.
Q. What is required?
A. To compete the program, defendants must do the following:
- sign a deferred prosecution agreement with the Polk County Attorney’s Office.
- obtain a substance abuse evaluation from a credible substance abuse treatment provider, as determined by the Office.
- complete any treatment recommended by the substance abuse evaluation by the date set for disposition and file proof of completion with the court. (Or file proof that no treatment was recommended).
- not be arrested and/or convicted of any new criminal offense between the date of the agreement and the date set for disposition.
- appear for all court dates.
- waive their rights to speedy indictment and trial and to file a Motion to Suppress Evidence in the case.
- resolve all associated traffic offenses by separate agreement with the Office.
Q. What will happen if a defendant complies with the terms of a deferred prosecution?
A. The Polk County Attorney’s Office will dismiss the charge at the defendant’s cost and recommend that the court expunge the matter from the defendant’s record, pursuant to Iowa Code § 901C.2. Typically, the cost to complete the matter will be approximately $200, including a substance abuse evaluation. In comparison, fines, fees, and other costs associated with a guilty plea would be roughly $1,000, as well as other negative consequences.
Q. What if a defendant fails to comply?
A. The Office is not bound by the deferred prosecution agreement and will request the matter be set for a pre-trial conference.
Q. What is the reason for the program?
A. The Marijuana Diversion Program offers a fair and just way to ensure accountability and uphold the state’s interest in preventing illegal marijuana use, while recognizing the negative impact of criminal convictions. Other jurisdictions in Iowa and around the country have successfully executed such diversion programs and found the following benefits:
- Reducing the consequences a conviction may have on defendants, including their ability to obtain housing and employment and access to higher education.
- Giving defendants the opportunity to address and treat addiction or other substance abuse problems.
- Promoting the wise use of court and prosecutorial resources.