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Posted by Michelle Dellino | Aug 05, 2015 | 0 Comments


For drug-related offenses in Washington State, there are several alternatives to incarceration that the courts may consider. These programs generally involve substance abuse treatment/rehabilitation as an alternative to incarceration.

The Seattle Times describes the expansion of one of these programs, which is designed for non-violent drug offenders as an alternative to incarceration. Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) started in Belltown in 2011 and has recently expanded to Seattle Police Department's East Precinct, presenting this alternative to more individuals who are facing drug charges.

LEAD reflects a model that is gaining momentum nationally. Other cities and states are beginning to allocate funding for similar programs, given the great success of LEAD in Seattle.

In this program, non-violent drug offenders are assigned to case managers who help them connect to much needed resources. Resources target addiction and mental health treatment, homelessness, and vocational services.  The intention is to help break the cycle for many offenders who cycle in and out of jail.

There are specific requirements involved with being accepted into LEAD. Participants must possess less than 3 grams of drugs when arrested and they must not have felony convictions for serious violent crimes and other offenses. They also cannot be suspected of exploiting minors in a drug-dealing operation or promoting prostitution. For those who are accepted into LEAD, no criminal charges are filed.

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Drug offenses in Washington State are referred to as VUSCA: Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substance Act. The Uniform Controlled Substance Act is outlined in Chapter 69.50 RCW. In Washington State, the term “controlled substance” is applied to all illegal drugs. Please see our prior blog post about drug possession laws in Washington State.

Programs such as LEAD are great alternative to incarceration, but you need a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney on your side. There may be other alternatives, such as probation or drug court, if you cannot qualify for LEAD.

If you are facing drug related charges, it is imperative that you work with an experienced,knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can thoroughly explore your options and fight for your best interests. We understand that a drug conviction can have significant negative repercussions, including but not limited to fines and jail time. Your job, relationships, and livelihood may be at stake. Our criminal attorneys at Dellino Law Group have vast experience and expertise in this area and are ready to work diligently and effectively to ensure you receive the best possible results. Please contact us today for a Free Consultation.

About the Author

Michelle Dellino

Michelle Dellino is the Managing Attorney of Dellino Law Group. The firm was founded on her belief that there is, very simply, a solution to every problem. Her personal practice focuses on complex family law matters including high conflict cases; high asset and long term marriage dissolution; cases involving business owners, IT, and medical professionals; domestic violence family law; and preparing cohabitation, prenuptial, and postnuptial agreements. Both a trained mediator and former criminal trial attorney, she has the skills and experience to take a case anywhere it needs to go, whether that is a creative settlement or intensive courtroom litigation. In her free time she chases her four dogs and two cats, loves the New York Yankees because mediocrity is not tolerated in pinstripes, and travels as often as she can.


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