How Do I Know If I’m Eligible for Drug Court?
If you’ve been charged with a drug crime in Virginia, it is natural to wonder about your rights and legal options. Like many states, the courts in Virginia can impose harsh penalties for drug crimes, depending on the circumstances. In Virginia, it is against the law for any person to knowingly or intentionally possess, sell, give, manufacture, or distribute a controlled substance. The penalty will be different depending on the nature of the crime, the drug involved, and the amount of the drug involved.
Our Virginia drug defense lawyers at Bain Sheldon are here to provide you with top-notch legal representation if you are facing drug charges. Schedule a consultation with our experienced and dedicated drug defense lawyers by calling the office at 804-282-8625. Or fill out our online form for a free case evaluation.
What Is Drug Court?
The first drug court in the U.S. opened in 1989 in Dade County, Florida. Today, these courts may handle defendants with a felony or misdemeanor drug charge. The intention of drug court is to help people charged with drug crimes recover from their addiction and work toward a future that’s free of criminal activity. The drug court system favors people who have been charged with nonviolent crimes and who may have substance abuse disorders.
While a drug court can still charge defendants with crimes, the goal of the drug court is to offer alternative methods of rehabilitation, such as personalized treatment for addiction and incentives to encourage participation in the recovery program.
The drug court program focuses on processing your case quickly and may give you the option of mandatory treatment or going to trial. If you choose to go to trial, you risk facing a prison sentence. However, if you fail to complete the drug court program requirements, you can get probation or go to prison.
The program has been successful nationwide. Data shows 84% of those who complete a drug court program were not charged with another serious crime in the first year, and 72.5% were not charged after two years.
How Do I Know If I’m Eligible?
Drug courts use criteria to distinguish whether you are eligible for the program. Currently, adults convicted of a violent crime in the last ten years or juveniles guilty of a violent crime in the past ten years are not eligible for the program.
Candidates for the drug court program must admit to or plead guilty to the drug charge. Participation in the program is voluntary, and several criteria can keep you from participating.
For example, to be eligible for a drug court program in Henrico County, Virginia, you cannot have a conviction for a predatory sex crime or any felony in which a child was the victim. You also can’t have a conviction where a firearm or dangerous weapon was used, or any other pending charges, felonies, or misdemeanors, except a traffic charge.
How an Attorney Can Help
One study by the Virginia Governor’s Heroin and Prescription Drug Task Force showed that the effectiveness of the drug court program in Virginia was nearly identical to the national average. The court works with local employers to help graduates find employment. The drug court program requires you to plead guilty at the beginning, but it may result in reduced charges or even dismissal at graduation from the program in some jurisdictions.
An experienced drug crime attorney can help you determine if you may be eligible for drug court and prepare you for the specific requirements of probation.
If you’re facing drug charges, call the Virginia defense lawyers at Bain Sheldon, Attorneys & Counselors at Law. We have been practicing for a combined 68 years, and we have the experience and resources to handle your case. Schedule a consultation with our team today by calling the office at 804-282-8625 or by sending us a message. We are ready to put our skills to work for you.