New Jersey Drug Courts: What You Need to Know

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If a person has a drug problem and they find themselves in trouble with the law, they may be eligible to participate in drug court instead of traditional court. The purpose is to help the user stop using drugs or drinking alcohol so that they can get back to life as a law abiding citizen. A lot of crimes are the result of the suspect either being on drugs or trying to get money to buy drugs. The hope drug courts have is that if they can help people get clean, the crime rate will drop. New Jersey drug courts usually work with individuals for at least one year while they go through treatment.

If a person gets arrested and authorities find that they are addicted to drugs, they may qualify for drug court if after being tested it is found that there is a clinical need for intervention. Most drug courts will disqualify people suspected of violent crimes.

How is Drug Court Different from Traditional Court?

You might look at drug court as a mix between rehab and traditional court. There are drug treatment professionals and probation officers who offer support and encouragement. There is still the judge, lawyers, etc. that act as an authority of the state to hold the individual accountable to the terms of the court. A person in drug court will appear before the judge frequently to assess their progress.

Individuals in drug court live on a strict schedule as the strive for a successful recovery and grow through the treatment process. If the person is making progress, the judge might reward him. He could also revert to criminal court proceedings if they are not meeting the expectations of the drug court. For example, if the person in drug court tests positive for drugs in one of their weekly drug tests, they may face jail time. If the miss any appointments in the treatment program, the judge may deem the individual to be out of compliance with the agreement and remove them from drug court.

Are Drug Courts Effective?

The first drug courts started over 20 years ago. Drug courts help drug abusers recover from addiction and leave behind criminal tendencies. Drug courts are not designed for first-time offenders or people who use drugs but are not addicted. They are meant for the people who are in the most need of assistance and desperate to recover from addiction. Right now about 70% of people who complete the drug court program over a year or more, stay arrest-free for at least another year.

States like NY that have latched on to the drug court model have seen significant reductions in the crime rate and savings in the state budget. Still, the model is not perfect. Despite the good that drug courts seek to do, they cannot offer services to everyone who would qualify because of limited resources. Drug courts can only serve maybe 10% of drug addicted criminals. As more research comes in, we will likely see the popularity around drug courts continue to rise nationwide.

There is also the problem of people who are admitted into drug court but never go to their treatment appointments. In these cases, it’s up to the judge to decide if they can stay in the program or not.

Growth of New Jersey Drug Courts

Governor Chris Christie sought to make drug courts more prominent in 2012. New Jersey drug courts started out as voluntary. This made sense because nobody can force an addict to quit using drugs. They must make that decision on their own, though they will need a lot of support. Nevertheless, now courts can mandate people to drug courts if the judge perceives that their addiction is the primary cause of their criminal behavior.

Why Opt For New Jersey Drug Courts

New Jersey drug courts are an alternative to prison. Prison is not fun for anyone, but it can be particularly psychologically damaging for drug addicts. If a person is addicted to drugs and they are in prison, they may seek to get drugs smuggled in. They might try to find a way to buy drugs from someone else who smuggled them in. These are serious crimes and could add years to their sentence. If an addicted person quits cold turkey while in prison, it can be very disturbing as they go through withdrawals. They might not receive the same medical attention and support as they would during this time in drug court. The would also have little to no psychological support. It’s just not a good recipe for successful recovery in most cases.

How Can Your lawyer help?

If are thinking about drug court or wondering if it’s even an option for you. Meet with a lawyer who will look over your case, inform you of possible sentencing outcomes and let you know if you qualify for the program.

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