| Introduction | History | Eligibility | Program Components |

TASC is an acronym which stands for Treatment Assessment Screening Center. If you have been arrested for a crime related to the possession or use of an unlawful substance, you may qualify for a type of deferred prosecution known as TASC Diversion. Those who qualify for TASC deferred prosecution will complete a 3-12 month program that involves random substance testing, mandatory drug and alcohol abuse education, and of course the associated fees. In return, the defendant may earn complete dismissal of the charges upon successful completion of the course.

Benefits of TASC diversion exist for both the defendant and the criminal justice system. If a defendant successfully completes the program, the charges against them are permanently dismissed. In theory, such programs given the defendant access to the tools they need to avoid repeating a criminal offense in the future. This helps ease the strain and overpopulation seen in our prison systems. In addition, the state saves money because the expenses associated with program participation are paid by the defendant.

The History of TASC Programs

It costs money to operate criminal detention facilities. In 2010, the state of Arizona spent over 1 billion dollars to operate and maintain its prison facilities. The total expense nationwide was upwards of 40 billion dollars. These costs are the burden of the taxpayers and many believe that reducing or eliminating incarceration for certain crimes could help mitigate this burden.

The concept of TASC was born 1972 in an attempt to decrease the burden on our criminal justice system by offering an alternate route to rehabilitate drug offenders. It emphasizes rehabilitation as a more productive approach to drug crimes as opposed to traditional incarceration. It strives to provide the education needed to break the cycle of drug use, the tools required for avoiding relapse, and mandated screening used to ensure compliance.

The concept of TASC was formalized in 1986 with the development of TASC critical training elements. These 10 elements are as follows:

  • Support of justice
  • Support of treatment
  • TASC administrative unit
  • Staff training
  • Data collection and evaluation
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Client identification
  • Assessment and referral
  • Urinalysis
  • Case management

These elements are still used today to teach staff the philosophy of the TASC program and reinforce relevant concepts. This training is considered the backbone of the successful implementation of the TASC program.

Who Qualifies for TASC Deferred Prosecution

Not all defendants charged with a drug-related crime are eligible for deferred prosecution under the TASC program. A.R.S. 11-361 states that an individual may be eligible for deferred prosecution prior to a guilty plea or trial so long as the following are true:

  • The individual has not been previously convicted of a dangerous offense, a serious offense, or a dangerous crime against children.
  • The individual has not been convicted three or more times of personal possession of a controlled substance.
  • The individual has not been convicted three or more times or personal possession of drug paraphernalia.

It is important to note that these criteria are more inclusive than the previous statute which was amended in 2012. This previous law disqualified any individual with a prior felony conviction or prior completion of a diversion program from participating in deferred prosecution.

In addition, participation in a TASC diversion program is only open to individuals that do not contest their guilt and are personally invested in their rehabilitation. Eligibility must be agreed upon by both the court and the prosecution, who often consider such factors as nature of the crime, previous criminal record, safety of the community, and attitude of the defendant towards the goal of rehabilitation. An attorney experienced in TASC diversion can guide you through eligibility and completion of a TASC program.

Components of TASC Deferred Prosecution

TASC Diversion for Marijuana possession charges:

  • Program Length of 6 months with option for early release after 90 days.
  • Urinalysis/Drug Screening
  • Drug Education Seminar
  • Payment of Program Fees and Maricopa County Attorney Drug Fund Assessment Fees
  • Additional fees for counseling if client continues to test positive for marijuana or any other substance

TASC Diversion for Narcotic or dangerous drug possession charges:

  • Program Length Minimum of One Year
  • Urinalysis/Drug Screening
  • Drug Education Seminar
  • Substance Abuse Counseling
  • 12-Step Participation or other Self Enhancement
  • Monthly Case Management Contact
  • Payment of Program Fees and Maricopa County Attorney Drug Fund Assessment Fees