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Thomas Carroll Blauvelt

Can drug courts reduce the impact of your drug charge?

Addiction is a serious medical issue that has social and criminal consequences. People get arrested and go to prison because they have developed a chemical dependence on a specific substance.

Drug use does not occur in a vacuum but is often the result of untreated medical conditions or previous emotional trauma. Some people even use prohibited drugs to self-medicate for mental health issues.

Unfortunately for those caught with drugs, criminal charges often make their lives much worse. They may have to spend time in state custody and will have limitations on their education and career because of their criminal record. The stress of prosecution may serve to reinforce someone’s drug use rather than stop it.

For those facing drug charges in New Jersey or New York, seeking pretrial diversion through the drug courts could be a viable option.

How do the drug courts work?

People often find the drug courts confusing, as they operate differently than the traditional criminal courts. Once the state establishes that substance abuse contributed to someone’s criminal activity, the defendant can work with the drug courts to pursue rehabilitation.

Drug court involves close judicial oversight, meaning that the defendant will need to return to the court frequently. They will likely need to participate in programs to help address their substance abuse. For example, they may need to go through inpatient rehabilitation services or intensive outpatient counseling to explore the underlying cause of their substance abuse.

Frequent random drug screenings are usually also required. The point of these requirements is to assist someone in overcoming their substance abuse for long-term sobriety.

What happens after drug court?

If someone successfully completes all of the requirements in their drug court proceedings, the offense that led to drug court proceedings will not result in a criminal record. They won’t face any criminal penalties, like jail time, despite effectively pleading guilty and asking the courts for help.

When you consider the social stigma still attached to a drug conviction and the penalties that include fines and jail time, drug court proceedings may be a much better option. Exploring different ways to reduce the impact of your drug charges can help you put this issue behind you.