If you've recently been arrested for the sale or possession of illegal drugs, you may be concerned about the prospect of an extended stay in jail or prison. You could also be worried about the physical and mental impact of going without your drugs of choice during your incarceration. Fortunately, there are now prosecutor- and court-led programs that can allow you to defer your criminal sentence while completing a stay in a rehabilitation facility and receiving a chance to recover. Read on to learn more about these programs and how you may be able to avoid prison time while changing the path you're on.
What types of drug crimes are eligible for rehab treatment programs?
Because jail and prison overcrowding remains a problem in many states, courts and lawmakers are looking for ways to ease the prison populations while also eradicating drugs (and drug crimes) in local communities. One way to accomplish this has proven fairly successful -- offering certain offenders a chance to go to rehab and serve a reduced sentence after successfully completing rehab and passing a number of probationary drug tests. Although these programs aren't offered in all areas, as they've been shown to reduce recidivism rates and prison overcrowding, more and more states have begun to adopt them.
Generally, to be eligible for a drug treatment in lieu of prison program, you'll have to be a legal adult charged with a non-violent drug-related crime and have no history of violent offenses. You'll also need to demonstrate that your addiction to drugs is the primary motivator of your criminal behavior, and that you are willing to seek help and would like to become clean. Because rehab services offered against a person's will or to someone who isn't committed to recovery may be unsuccessful, the courts may not want to devote their resources unless they feel confident you'll use them wisely.
The primary advantage to this program (in addition to the opportunity to get clean) is the ability to have a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor or even completely dismissed after you've successfully completed your stint in rehab. As long as you cooperate with your treatment plan and agree to (and pass) random drug screenings during and after rehab, you'll likely be able to have your charges dismissed and avoid another felony conviction on your record.
How can you pay for this treatment?
The cost of residential drug rehab can be high. However, many courts have received grants from the federal government (or their own state governments) to help defray these costs. While you might be required to pay a small weekly or monthly stipend toward your treatment in the form of court costs or fees, most of this treatment should be paid through the court program. This is one reason why these programs are so selective, and you'll need to demonstrate your commitment to recovery before being selected to participate. These programs can provide you with a unique and once-in-a-lifetime way to get clean without having to pay out of pocket for rehab.
What should you do after you've been charged with a drug crime?
If you'd like to take advantage of one of these programs in your community, you'll likely need to enlist the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will be able to gather the factors in your favor and negotiate with the prosecutor to ensure that you're offered a fair sentence and the opportunity to receive treatment. Your attorney can also serve as the conduit between you and the court, and can continue to update the court on your progress without requiring you to take time off work to appear at a hearing.