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Is drug court a good option for you?

Florida drug charges can have some serious consequences, starting with criminal penalties and continuing with a record that can follow you and limit your opportunities. Some defendants facing allegations of drug crimes may have the option of going through drug court instead.

Many states, including Florida, have established treatment courts, as officials have come to recognize some types of offenders need therapeutic intervention rather than traditional imprisonment. Drug courts are geared toward those whose offense stems from addiction.

Who can participate?

After the arrest, defendants go through an initial screening to determine whether they would be good candidates for drug court. Those who pass the screening can take further steps to continue the application process.

Generally, to qualify for drug court, one must suffer from substance addiction and be willing to comply with the program's requirements. Other relevant factors may include the number of previous offenses and whether any of them involved violence. Specific courts in your locations may have some additional rules and requirements.

How does the program work?

A drug court program typically lasts for at least one year, but can be longer. Each person gets a treatment plan based on his or her specific case. Substance abuse often arises in conjunction or as a result of poor mental or physical health; appropriate treatment of these issues can go hand-in-hand with treating addiction.

To stay in the program, one must fully comply with the treatment plan, including attending all appointments. As part of the program, participants also undergo frequent drug testing and must attend check-in sessions with the court.

What happens next?

Successfully completing the program typically results in dismissal of the original charges. Failing to comply can result in termination from the program and a return to the regular court system. Participants can also leave the program of their own accord; this will also lead to a return to the standard criminal process.

Is drug court a good idea for me?

Drug court can help some people avoid jail time and a burdensome record. However, such a program may not benefit everyone. Discussing options with your attorney can help you decide on the course of action that would work best for you.

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