Diversion as an alternative to imprisonment in Hungarian Criminal Law

Misuse of narcotics

In 2017, I acted as a legal representative (defense counsel) in the case of a Greek citizen, who had been accused of misuse of narcotic drugs. The client admitted to consuming a minimal amount of marijuana, and because of this, an investigation procedure was initiated.

Diversion as alternative of imprisonment

The Hungarian law offers an alternative to imprisonment in such cases, known as diversion. Section 180. of the Criminal Code states that no punishment shall apply on the grounds of misuse of narcotic drugs if it involves a small quantity produced, manufactured, acquired or held for own consumption, provided the perpetrator in question is able to produce a document before he is sentenced in the first instance to verify that he has been treated for drug addiction for at least six consecutive months or that he has participated in a drug addiction program or a preventive-consulting service.

Upon completing the diversion, the criminal procedure against the perpetrator will be terminated.

What if you don’t speak Hungarian

In this case, however, a question emerged: how can the Hungarian treatments offered by law be completed by a person who does not speak the Hungarian language? This question is closely connected to the human right to use own language.

If she could not take part in the diversion for the reason she does not speak the language, that would qualify as a violation of Article 14 (Prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

All well if ends well

However, we recieved favourable information at the end:

Many Hungarian drug prevention centers offer a training in English, therefore a lack of knowledge of the Hungarian language itself is not a setback. Since our client met the legal requirements, she could sign up at a prevention center to complete the diversion. The procedure itself lasts 6 months, and a meeting every two weeks is required.

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