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Diversion After Narcotic Drug Offences

In the field of narcotic drugs, the public prosecution or judge must drop the charge for a probation period of 2 years (Schwaighofer 1997; Bruckmhller et al. 2011a) if a person only possessed or purchased a small amount of narcotic drugs for their own consumption, or committed a criminal act in order to finance the purchasing of drugs (§ 35 Narcotic Act—Suchtmittelgesetz). This special form of diversion—which actually is one of the historic roots of the entire system—must be deemed more appropriate on special preventative grounds than to reach a conviction.

Prior to withdrawing the charge, information must be gathered from the Ministry of Employment, Health and Social Welfare and an opinion must be obtained from the local health authority in the case of a small amount of cannabis on whether or not the accused must undergo health-related treatment. Such treatments may include, among others, being monitored by a doctor, taking part in a rehabilitation or substitution programme, or even undergoing psychotherapy.

The preliminary withdrawal of the charge may also take place if the accused agrees to being supervised by a parole officer. In the case of withdrawal symptoms, the Ministry, and in some cases also the local health authorities, must be informed.

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