As a criminal defense attorney in Wake County, I encounter a large number of cases that involve drug use. In handling such cases, I find myself meeting some clients who are battling an addiction and who are desperate for some kind of help in overcoming their addiction.
In Wake County, there are different options for someone who has a drug charge, but for someone who has a drug charge and a substance abuse issue, one of the more intensive options is participating in Drug Treatment Court.
What is Drug Treatment Court?
The North Carolina Drug Treatment Court is an intensive, well structured program designed to identify and treat offenders whose criminal activities are generally related to substance abuse.
Participation in Drug Treatment Court is not offered to every person facing drug charges and it is not a “right” an offender has. There are certain requirements that have to be met to be eligible to participate in Drug Treatment Court. First, the offender must be eligible to receive a community or intermediate punishment according to the state’s structured sentencing system. If the offender can only receive an active sentence due to their sentencing level and/or charge, then they are eligible for Drug Treatment Court.
In addition, the offender can not be classified as a violent offender, drug dealer or habitual felon. The program wants to avoid offenders who are just trying to avoid an active sentence and who are really just dealers are not ideal candidates for Drug Treatment Court. This is a very intense program with specific goals.
Goals of Wake County Drug Treatment Court:
- To reduce alcoholism and other drug dependencies among adult and juvenile offenders and defendants and respondents in juvenile petitions for abuse, neglect, or both;
- To reduce criminal and delinquent recidivism and the incidence of child abuse and neglect;
- To reduce the alcohol-related and other drug related court workload
- To increase the personal, familial, and societal accountability of adult and juvenile offenders and defendants and respondents in juvenile petitions for abuse, neglect, or both; and
- To promote effective interaction and use of resources among criminal and juvenile justice personnel, child protective services personnel, and community agencies.
For the court and the participant to have the best chance at reaching the above goals, Drug Treatment Court is a “team” that works together to help the offender stay on track and complete the program.
What is Expected of a Drug Treatment Court Participant?
This “team” consists of a probation officer, case coordinator, treatment provider, defense attorney, assistant district attorney and Judge. Drug Treatment Court usually lasts anywhere from one year to two years. The length of time a participant is in the program usually depends on how well they are doing with the structure of the program. A participant is normally required to be in court two times each month and arrive on time and stay for the entire drug court session. The participant is placed in counseling and has a probation officer who checks on their progress throughout their time in the program. The participant will have to comply with the substance abuse treatment portion of the program, which is a minimum of weekly treatment meetings, weekly community support such as AA/NA meetings and frequent and random drug testing.
Once a participant successfully completes all phases of the program, has a significant period of clean time prior to completion, paid all treatment costs and completes an exit interview, they will graduate from the program.
Are You a Candidate for Drug Treatment Court?
As you can see Drug Treatment is not for someone who is not serious about staying clean and changing their lives. It is a wonderful program that has provided many people struggling with substance abuse the opportunity to educate themselves on addiction and how to overcome it.
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