In North Carolina, drug treatment courts often seek alternative penalties and detention methods to both rehabilitate and punish criminal offenders who have been caught using, selling or holding illegal drugs or paraphernalia. In many cases, especially those involving a first-time offender or a minor defendant, rehabilitation is the best way to treat the addiction and offer the defendant a chance to make reparation for his or her crimes.
Isolation, counseling, and withdrawal programs are all effective ways to eliminate drug usage and addictions. Once the addiction is gone, the defendant has no need or motive to commit further drug crimes. For a first-time offender, the rehabilitation programs and the chance to move forward and serve time without the weight of a serious criminal record, could be the chance he or she needs to make a fresh start.
Drug treatment courts offer a variety of rehabilitation options, including twelve-step drug treatment programs, vocational and life skills rehabilitation classes, G.E.D programs and parenting and anger management courses (if needed). The court program lasts from one to two years, and typically requires the participants to appear in court at least twice a month.
If a judge feels that a defendant in the drug treatment program is not fulfilling the terms of his or her acceptance into the program, a change may be ordered. This change could be a new method of treatment, additional classes or counseling, drug testing, jail time or even removal from the program. Those who are working within drug treatment programs in North Carolina must continue to uphold their end of the agreement throughout the program’s duration.
Requirements for Drug Treatment Courts
Although these drug courts and the treatment choices within their systems may seem attractive to accused offenders hoping to avoid heavy fines or extended jail time, drug crime attorneys note that certain criteria must be met before the drug court is a viable option.
An offender whose case is eligible for drug treatment court must meet the below criteria, according to state laws:
- The offender must be addicted to a chemical substance.
- The offender must volunteer to participate in the rehabilitation program.
- The offender must be eligible for community service or intermediate penalties as an alternative to prison.
- The crime must not have been classified as violent, or the defendant as violent, a repeat offender, or a drug dealer.
Additional requirements may be mandated from court to court, and the 23 counties that offer drug treatment courts can set their own rules outside of the state’s requirements. Typically, defendants are evaluated on a case by case basis in which a judge considers all the circumstances surrounding the arrest or charges.
At Cheshire, Parker, Schneider, and Bryan, our drug crime lawyers offer legal counsel and representation to people in the Raleigh area who have been charged with drug possession, use sales, or drug trafficking. To discuss your case and learn more about the options available to you in North Carolina’s drug treatment courts, contact one of our attorneys today.