In New York State if you have been accused of a drug crime you may be eligible for a drug treatment program to avoid a jail sentence or even a criminal conviction. There are two main drug treatment programs available to those defendants that qualify. The first is known as Drug Court and it is used mostly for people who have a drug or alcohol problem that led to their being arrested. They will be evaluated and a determination will be made concerning their eligibility. In general they must not have violent felony convictions and they must have a substance abuse problem.
The defendant will sign a contract that details their responsibilities and the consequences for failure to follow the rules of drug court. They must attend individual and group sessions if required and appear in drug court once a month or on a regular basis set up by the judge. They will be evaluated on their progress and earn certificates of achievement every few months for a period of one or two years.
After completion of the program they are awarded a certificate and everyone in the court gives them a round of applause. Their case is dismissed and they will not have a criminal record. This is important because a criminal record can make it very difficult to get a decent job or to get into college or other schools.
The second type of drug treatment is called Judicial Diversion. It is available to defendants charged with felony drug charges who are addicts and who committed a crime due to their drug addiction. In some cities like Buffalo and Niagara Falls it is not required that the defendant proves that he or she is currently a drug addict. They simply have to have a drug problem that led to their crime. They may have been accused of dealing drugs and still be eligible.
In New York City and other areas the eligibility requirements are more stringent. The defendant must be a drug addict at the time of the evaluation, and then is told to stop using drugs. They may not have a violent felony offense on their record or any number of offenses that would make them a threat to other participants since New York City programs often require a 6 month period in a half-way house or in patient program with other defendants. Any conviction for rape, sexual abuse, or escape will cause the prosecutor to object to their eligibility in the Judicial Diversion Program. The prosecutor will almost always object to dealers of drugs being admitted into the program but your attorney may be able to convince the judge to allow that person into Judicial Diversion.
The defendant must sign a contract which says that the charges will be dismissed or sometimes reduced to a misdemeanor if they complete the 18 month or 24 month program and that they will serve a prison term of 3 years or some other term if they fail to complete the program.
A defendant who faces a prison term may also be eligible for a 90 day period of hospitalization at the Willard Treatment Facility if they qualify and the judge orders it. They again cannot have violent offenses or escapes and they must be addicted to drugs. They must be facing a second felony term of 3 years or more.
If you are charged with a drug crime it is important to retain an attorney who specializes in criminal law and who regularly handles drug cases because that attorney will be familiar with the available programs, the prosecutors, and the counselors who work with them.
My office will meet with you for free to evaluate your case to find out whether you quailfy for a drug treatment program that can lead to your charges being dismissed. Our fees are very reasonable and we can set up a payment plan to make it easy to afford a qualified attorney to handle your case.
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