R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Drug charges: When addiction is the underlying problem

Many people think that everyone involved in the criminal justice system are "bad" people who are intentionally breaking the law. This misconception makes it hard for the people who have legitimate underlying problems that led them to face criminal charges.

One type of charge that might be subjected to this type of assumption is a drug charge, namely drug possession. This charge is often associated with someone who has a drug addiction.

Where drug addiction and criminal justice collide

When people are addicted to drugs, there is a very good chance that they will be involved in the criminal justice system. While drug possession charges are the most obvious legal ramifications they will face, there are other charges that can come up. Theft, for example, might be another charge individuals face because they are trying to find ways to come up with money to support their drug habits.

This intersection between criminal justice and drug addiction is difficult to handle. It is easy to say that the individuals should be punished, but this won't address the underlying issue. People who struggle with the disease of addiction will often need help it they are going to stand a chance to get out of the criminal justice system ... and stay out of it.

One solution courts use

Drug courts are being used to help individuals with addictions while still holding them accountable for their criminal actions. The program combines rehabilitation, community support, criminal penalties and court supervision in a structured manner. There are many different requirements in these programs and the court can tailor the requirements to an individual's needs.

The drug court program is sometimes viewed as an easy way to get out of facing other penalties for the drug charges. This isn't the case. Drug court is a very difficult program for many people. Even though people can likely avoid jail as long as they are complying with the terms of the program, there is a chance that they will spend time in jail if they slip or relapse during the program.

Drug court isn't guaranteed for any defendant. Instead, a defendant has to meet the criteria for the program and agree to enter. For this reason, people who are facing drug charges should ensure they understand this option if it is on the table. Reviewing the terms, expectations and benefits will be essential.

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