The Pre-sentence Opportunity Program or POP is an intervention initiative designed to assist people with minor or low-level, criminal law drugs charges. The POP program is a court-based diversion program operated by the Magistrates Court of WA that connects drug counselling and support services to the people in need.
It is not available for people who are charged with serious drug offences that need to be dealt with by the Supreme Court or District Court.
The POP program is available to anyone pleading guilty to a criminal charge in WA who satisfies the following criteria:
- has a problem with or related to substance abuse; and
- is willing to receive treatment; and
- would ordinarily be sentenced to a fine or community-based order in relation to their criminal charge or charges; and
- has no serious charges that need to be dealt with in the Supreme Court or the District Court; and
- is on bail or eligible to be released on bail and has stable living arrangements.
There are four stages to the POP program:
- Referral. The first step is to be referred for assessment. You can be referred either by the magistrate, the prosecutor, yourself or by your defence lawyer. This can be done on the day of your appearance in the Magistrates Court.
- Assessment. This involves an interview with a Diversion Officer, sometimes referred to as the POP Officer. This is usually done at court on the same day that you are referred. The interview involves discussing your substance use issues and the available treatment options. The POP Officer provides their assessment to the magistrate for consideration. Usually, if the POP Officer finds that you are suitable for the POP program: the magistrate will accept this. If you are accepted into the POP program, your sentencing on your criminal charges will be deferred, usually for eight weeks, to allow you to receive treatment.
- Treatment. The POP Officer will refer you to appropriate resources the treatment. This usually involves counselling, but can also include detox, residential rehabilitation and other forms of treatment.
- Sentence. At the end of your treatment period, the POP Officer will provide a report to the magistrate about your participation in the program. This will be taken into account by the magistrate when you were sentenced.
An accused person wishing to access the POP program can do so regardless of whether they are represented by criminal lawyer in WA. There is no fee for participating in the POP program. The cost of treatment is covered by the government.
If you would like more information about the POP program, you can contact our team of criminal lawyers at Paxman & Paxman. Our team of criminal defence lawyers is experienced in court representation in respect of all drug charges in WA. if you are looking for a criminal lawyer in Perth or anywhere in WA: give us a call today on 1300 274 692.