With statistical data showing staggering numbers of people serving time
in state prisons for drug possession, many states have adopted the idea
of Drug Court. In Miami and Broward, Drug Courts are in full swing. Miami's
Drug Court is presided over by The Honorable Deborah White-Labora, and
Broward's Drug Court is presided over by The Honorable Marcia Beach.
Both are fantastic judges with one goal in mind: helping drug possession
offenders overcome both their drug habits and criminal records.
Drug Court is offered by the State Attorney's Office to people accused of
felony-level drug possession
. These drugs include cocaine, marijuana (20 grams or more), heroin, MDMD
(ecstacy), alprazolam (Xanax), oxycodone (OxyContin), and many others.
Remember - Drug Court is for
offenses, and some purchase-level offenses.
Possession with Intent to Sell
almost never qualify for Drug Court.
Drug Court is a 1-year program where prosecution is deferred so that the
accused can seek treatment through this court-operated program. In Drug
Court, the accused person's case will remain open. However, successful
completion of the program will result in a dismissal of the charge, or
charges, for first-time offenders, and a withhold of adjudication (not
a conviction) for people with prior felony records.
Drug Court is not easy. It requires time and effort. The accused person
must go to court every 30-45 days. At those court appearances, representatives
from the program will have informed the Judge of the accused person's
progress. Participants in Drug Court are regularly drug tested, and must
attend weekly counseling sessions and group therapy. If the participant
tests positive for drugs, they may be removed from the program. Also,
if the participant is arrested for a new offense, they may also be removed
from the program as well.
As I mentioned earlier, the accused person's case remains open while
they are participating in Drug Court. This is because Drug Court is not
a form of probation or any type of sentence. A participant does not plead
guilty or no contest. A participant can maintain their plea of "not
guilty" and agree to fulfill the conditions of the program, with
the understanding that the State will drop their charges once the program
is successfully completed.
Drug Court gives first-time offenders a chance to avoid a criminal record.
I always agree to expunge the records of my clients that participate in
Drug Court. That way, once their case is dismissed, I begin the process
of eliminating the arrest itself from the client's record. That way,
they can literally be given a second chance.
Drug Court, however, does not always come easy. A good defense attorney
may have to negotiate for it. As well, once the accused person is in Drug
Court, the felony case remains open. That means, if the accused person
is removed from Drug Court, they must still contend with pending felony charges.
I represent people accused of drug possession all the time. In many cases,
I am able to get them into Drug Court, should that be the client's
desire. Once they are in, I attend EVERY court appearance, closely monitor
their progress, and work toward their ultimate dismissal of the charges.
Some lawyers are able to get their clients into Drug Court, but once there,
they are no longer involved in the case. Getting a client into Drug Court
is only half the battle. The real legal work remains, and a good criminal
defense attorney will always be an active participant in the program alongside
If you or someone you know have been arrested for drug possession,
call my office
so we can discuss the possibility of Drug Court.