Drug-related offenses can have a tremendous impact on people’s lives. If you face charges for a drug-related offense, or even worse, get convicted for one, the consequences can range from bad to devastating.
However, that is not the only potential end to a drug case. Many people in California are not aware that the courts have alternatives to traditional criminal courts for certain drug offenses.
Drug courts, an alternative to traditional punishment, aim to allow certain individuals to enter a program to address the root causes of their substance abuse and addiction and seek treatment.
What are drug courts?
These courts are special programs created to help people who the prosecution has charged with drug offenses. These are people who struggle with addiction, and the goal of drug courts is not to punish them but to give them tools to work through their problems and get a second chance at life.
Does everyone qualify for a drug court?
No. Not everyone qualifies for drug court because the program is for non-violent offenders who committed crimes because of their addiction to drugs.
If someone deals, sells drugs or commits violent offenses, they will probably not be eligible for drug court. However, it is worth discussing with your attorney to ensure you get the chance if you are eligible.
How do drug courts work?
Once you enter the drug court, you will be under strict supervision by court personnel. Drug courts will give you resources for recovery, such as:
- Medical examination and treatment
- Therapy and support groups
- Accountability by drug-testing
- Possible community service
You will also have to appear in court regularly so the judge can monitor your progress.
While it may seem like an intense program, it is an excellent alternative to jail time and an opportunity to get clean. This program is for people who truly want help. It is not mandatory and the program usually lasts from one to two years.
During this time, a team of professionals, including judges, your attorney, an attorney for the prosecution, substance abuse treatment professionals and community service officers, will work together to support your recovery.
The benefits of drug court
The benefits of this alternative to punishment for drug-related, non-violent crimes are many, including not having to go to jail and the opportunity to get clean.
Most people who struggle with addiction are people who are hurting, and what they need is compassion. If there is hope, the court wants people to take responsibility for what they did while also receiving treatment, so they can aim for a second chance and, hopefully, a long life of healthy, lawful choices.