What is Drug Court? Are You Eligible?
It’s a fact — the country is dealing with a major drug epidemic. Every night on the news there are stories of another person dying of a heroin overdose. In fact, heroin and morphine deaths in New Jersey skyrocketed from 2010 to 2015. According to the New Jersey Medical Examiner’s Office, there were 1,587 drug overdose deaths in 2015, an increase of 21 percent from 2014. Since 2004, more than 6,000 people have died in New Jersey from heroin abuse. It’s a terrible situation with no real solution to end it in place.
So let’s say are a drug addict and you commit a crime, one that would put you behind bars. But instead of getting a jail sentence, you are ordered to drug court. What does that mean? Is that a special sentence for your case?
Beginning in 2002, the purpose of the New Jersey Drug Court Program is, instead of sending an addicted offender to prison, that person will receive treatment and rehabilitation. The participant will begins a treatment program that could last anywhere from 1 to 2 years. During this time, the participant attends treatment sessions, will receive random drug tests, meet with a probation officer, and regularly appear before the drug court judge. In addition, the participant will meet with sponsors who have successfully completed or are currently in the program.
The program has a high rate of success in New Jersey — so far more than 4,000 participants have graduated from the program. Eighty-four percent of those graduates are employed, 61 percent obtained a valid driver’s license, and more important, there have been 348 drug-free babies born to drug court participants.
Not only has the program been successful, but the program has saved the state money by not sending these offenders to jail, which can be a revolving door for drug offenders. According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, going to prison has little to no effect on someone with a substance abuse problem. At least 60 to 80 percent of drug abusers will turn around and commit a crime after being released from prison. And approximately 95 percent return to drug abuse after release.
Who’s eligible for drug court? An adult who has been charged with a crime that carries a prison sentence may be eligible. The offense does not have to be a drug offense — it can be any crime motivated by drug addiction, such as theft. However, in order to be eligible, applicants will have to undergo a legal review as well as an assessment by a drug court official. Violent and repeat offenders are often excluded from the program.
If you were arrested for a crime in Jersey City, Newark, or anywhere else in New Jersey, we can help. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today for a free consultation.