In South Australia, initiatives have been developed to assist drug users to break the cycle of drug abuse and crime.
Simple possession offences can be dealt with by way of a drug diversion, referred to as the Police Drug Diversion Initiative (PDDI). This scheme enables eligible people to be diverted by the Police to the health system for simple possession offences, instead of being dealt with through the justice system. See below for more information.
Additionally, there are treatment schemes which operate through the Treatment Intervention Court in the Magistrates Court (formerly the Drug Court and the Magistrates Court Diversion Program). This allows eligible offenders who have been charged with drug related offences to access treatment schemes through a Court process.
Aside from these two initiates, Police also have the ability to issue an expiation notice for simple cannabis related offences. This allows the offender to expiate the matter instead of it proceeding to a court hearing, see Simple Cannabis Offences.As simple cannabis offences are dealt with by way of expiation, they are excluded from the scope of the Police Drug Diversion Initiative.
Police Drug Diversion Initiative (PDDI)
The Controlled Substance Act 1984 (SA) [ss 34 - 40A] provides a scheme of rehabilitation for suitable offenders charged with simple possession of drugs of dependence (except simple cannabis offences, as these are dealt with by way of expiation). The diversion scheme is restricted to drug offences and is not available for non-drug offences, even where drug use is a significant component of the offending. The scheme does not apply to:
See Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) s 34(1).
A serious drug offence means an offence against Part 5, Division 2 (other than Subdivision 4), Division 3, Division 4 (other than section 33I(2), 33K or 33L) or Division 4A [see s 34(2)].
The police must refer allegations of simple possession of defined amounts of drugs of dependence to an assessment service [Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) s 36]. Drug and Alcohol Services SA (DASSA) is currently responsible for the statewide coordination of the PDDI program in South Australia, and a number of service providers are accredited to provide drug assessment and treatment services.
Referral to a Drug Assessment and Treatment Service operates as stay of proceedings
The referral pauses a prosecution for the alleged offence (it operates as a stay of proceedings) [s 36(3)].
A prosecution for a simple possession offence cannot proceed unless the referral has been terminated by the service [s 40].
In order to carry out its assessment, the drug assessment or treatment service may request medical records, drug treatment records, criminal records, etc or require the person to undergo a medical examination [s 37(2)].
A referral may be may terminated if a person fails to comply, does not admit allegations or does not wish to participate in the program [s 37(3)]. In this case the prosecution for the simple possession offence can proceed in court.
Undertaking by person on completion assessment
After an assessment, a person enters into an undertaking similar to a bond for a period of up to six months, involving participation in treatment programs, counselling courses. Those under the age of 18 years are excluded from this scheme. If a person undertakes treatment or rehabilitation, the criminal charges are withdrawn [s 38(3)(b)].
Participation not an admission of guilt
The fact that a person alleged to have committed a simple possession offence participates in an assessment or enters into an undertaking is not an admission of guilt [s 40(2)].
On successful completion of an undertaking, the person is immune from prosecution [s 40(4)].
Anything said or done by a person doing an assessment or undertaking is not admissible evidence in any proceedings for the alleged offence [s 40(3)].
More than two diversions in four years
A person is not eligible to participate in the drug diversion scheme where they have:
There is therefore a limit on a person accessing the diversion scheme where they have had 2 diversions in a 4 year period.
See Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) s 34(1)(c).
Treatment Intervention Court
The Treatment Intervention Court (formerly known as the Drug Court or the Drug Diversion Program) supervises eligible offenders who appear in either the Magistrates Court or the Youth Court and whose offending is related to mental impairment and/or drug dependence issues. The Treatment Intervention Court allows for such offenders to participate in programs that assist with their drug dependency. Two treatment streams relating to drug offending are offered through the Treatment Intervention Court – both of which are highly supervised and involve intensive drug treatment. Other streams apply to offenders with mental impairments. The two streams applying to drug offending are:
Six Month Stream
This stream involves the following program of treatment and intervention:
The Treatment Intervention Program - 6 month stream operates at all metropolitan Magistrates Courts – Adelaide, Christies Beach, Elizabeth, Port Adelaide. It also operates in the Youth Court.
12 Month Stream (formerly the Drug Court Program)
This stream is only available at the Adelaide Magistrates Court and involves the following intensive program of treatment and intervention:
The 12 month program operates on a points system, where points are incurred for minor non-compliance and a Magistrate has the ability to apply sanctions for non-compliance, which could include bail revocation or a imposing a period of incarceration where the non-compliance is severe. The points system allows for a defendant's progress to be tracked and allows for an assessment of whether they have successfully completed the program.
For a defendant participating in either a 6 month or 12 month program, a number of treatment options may be available to them depending on what the court determines to be appropriate. Treatment options can include:
To be eligible for participation in a treatment intervention program (either 6 or 12 month stream), a defendant:
Referral to the Treatment Intervention Court can be through Magistrate, a legal practitioner or police charging sergeant. It is usually made by a court application upon entering a guilty plea. The Magistrate will then list the matter in the Treatment Intervention Court list after which time an assessment and report will be ordered to determine the defendant's suitability in participating in the program. If a defendant is appearing in a suburban court and there is a possibility they may be eligible for participation in the 12 month stream, the matter will be transferred to the Adelaide Magistrates Court for assessment. Where a defendant is assessed as not being eligible for participation in either stream, their matter will return to the general list.
To achieve successful completion of a treatment program, a defendant must:
Persistent non-compliance with the requirements of the program may result in a recommendation that participation in the program cease.
Youth Court Treatment Intervention Court
The 6 month Treatment Intervention Program stream also operates in the Youth Court.
The Youth Court Treatment Intervention Program commenced in 2011 and replaced the former Youth Court Assessment and Referral Drug Scheme (Youth CARDS) and the former Youth Court Diversion Program (YCDP).
Eligible defendants appearing in the Youth Court are able to access the 6 month Treatment Intervention stream. Young people who may not be eligible for a referral for a Family Conference due to the nature of their offending are targeted for referral to this stream. Treatment services are usually provided by private psychologists.
Port Adelaide Nunga Court Program
A specialised 6 month treatment intervention program operates in the Port Adelaide Nunga Court. Eligible defendants may defer sentencing for a period of 6 months to enable their participation in the program.
More information on the Treatment Intervention Court can be located via the Courts Administration Authority - Treatment Intervention Court website.