Despite changing numerous laws to better align with scientific advancements and a greater understanding of the nature of addiction, New York still strictly prohibits the possession of certain drugs. People caught in possession of controlled substances, like synthetic opioid medications, and those caught with prohibited drugs, like methamphetamine, are still regularly arrested and charged with consequential criminal offenses in New York.
A drug offense often leads to incarceration and limited opportunities after someone’s release from state custody. For some criminal defendants, pursuing pretrial diversion through the New York drug treatment courts is a viable alternative to facing the potential consequences of traditional criminal conviction.
How do drug courts work?
The New York drug courts serve as an alternate justice system for those whose criminal activity may have had a connection to a substance abuse disorder. Those accused of non-violent offenses related to drugs might qualify to have their case heard in drug court. Both felony and misdemeanor offenses related to someone’s substance abuse disorder could lead to drug court proceedings.
Instead of pleading innocent and trying to defend themselves, those going through drug court instead assert that their arrest was related to their substance abuse disorder and ask the courts to oversee their treatment. A judge in the New York drug courts will likely require counseling and educational services.
They will schedule the defendant for multiple visits with court officials every month. They will also expect the defendant to submit to randomized drug testing to help validate their sobriety. If someone successfully fulfills all of the requirements set by the judge overseeing their drug court case, they can avoid criminal consequences and a criminal record.
Drug court requires commitment but can be a viable alternative
Achieving sobriety and completing all of the requirements established by a drug court is a challenge even for the most dedicated individual. There are often mental health or physical health concerns that people have to identify and address if they hope to resolve their substance abuse issues. Drug courts can facilitate the right treatment so that people understand why they make the choices they do and how to break the cycle of substance abuse and criminal behavior.
Learning more about drug courts and other alternatives to pleading guilty can benefit those accused of drug offenses or other nonviolent crimes in New York. When severe penalties can be avoided in cases involving non-violent drug offenses, every effort should be made to give alleged offenders a second chance.