August 24, 2018
Florida created treatment-based, court-supervised rehabilitation programs to help nonviolent drug offenders recover from addiction without having to go to jail. From the outset, the programs sought to break the cycle of substance abuse that entraps many drug offenders. Today, each county in Florida may have a drug court plan that provides tailored substance abuse treatments based on the specific needs of participants.
How Pretrial Intervention Works
According to Florida Statutes 948.08, an individual charged with a nonviolent drug offense may participate in a court-supervised treatment program. That’s regardless of whether or not the prosecution has already filed information in the circuit court, or a grand jury has issued an indictment. Under the program, the accused receives medical and psychological treatment as well as drug education to help with addiction recovery.
How Does the Drug Court Program Differ With Traditional Criminal Proceedings?
Unlike traditional criminal proceedings, a drug court does not primarily seek to prove the accused innocent or guilty before acquitting or jailing. The program entails non-confrontational engagements among various stakeholders. As such, the court, prosecution, defense teams, and the State share a common objective of rehabilitating participants.
As per Statute 397.334, the rehab-oriented drug court programs entail:
- Multi-faceted drug court programs that administer substance abuse treatments along with justice system case processing.
- Non-adversarial engagements that enable prosecution and defense attorneys to safeguard participants’ due process rights without exposing the public to harm.
- Stakeholders identify eligible participants early enough to release them to a drug court program promptly.
- Court programs facilitate access to ongoing substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation services.
- Participants to undergo frequent alcohol or drug tests
- Court program collaborates with stakeholders to formulate appropriate responses to participants’ compliance.
- Court program to emphasize continuing judicial interaction with each participant
- Tracking and assessing the attainment of program objectives and measuring program effectiveness
- Court program offers ongoing interdisciplinary education to inform planning, implementation, and operational strategies.
- Drug court programs collaborate with public agencies and community-based bodies to garner local support and boost program success rates.
What’s the Criterion for Placement?
Placement in a pretrial intervention program is voluntary. A typical participant is either:
- A first-time drug offender charged with a felony of the third degree or a less serious crime; or
- An individual with a conviction record of not more than one nonviolent offense, who’s facing a felony of the third-degree charge or a less serious drug charge.
How Can a Defendant Make the Most of a Drug Court Program?
A defendant must comply with the requirements of their drug court program for better addiction recovery results. Also, compliance helps avoid the possible continuation of the criminal charges against the participant. Critical participation requirements include:
- Ceasing to commit serious crimes during rehabilitation.
- Attending status hearings without fail (usually twice per month in the first phase of the drug court rehabilitation program).
- Not using non-medically prescribed intoxicating or addictive substances and drugs, including alcohol, marijuana, and several conventional medications.
Enlist a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney to Assess Your Legal Options Today
If you are facing a drug charge in Florida, you may wish to explore all your legal options. One such option is placement in a treatment-based court program in the State. Successful participation in such a program could, in some cases, result in the prosecution dropping all charges without prejudice. Our criminal defense attorneys may be able to help you confront such accusations pragmatically. Call the Khonsari Law Group at (727) 269-5300 or write to us online. We may be able to provide legal advice regarding qualifying for the Florida drug court program.