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Judicial Monitoring For First-Time Drug Offenders: An Alternative to Drug Court

Drug Court is not for everybody. Drug Court is intended to assist first-time misdemeanor (Broward) and felony (Broward and Miami-Dade) drug offenders with their addictions, while providing for an alternative to a probationary, jail, or even prison sentence.

However, not all drug offenders are drug addicts. I believe that Drug Court should be reserved for drug addicts because of the limited resources available. It does not make sense for a non-addict who has only used marijuana once or twice to go through intensive drug treatment. It is a waste of time, money, and it takes away from treatment that should be given to someone who truly suffers from the disease of drug addiction.

While I have not seen it put to use in Broward, some judges in Miami-Dade County will permit an accused person to undergo judicial monitoring. With an agreement from the State Attorney's Office, a first-time possession-level offender may be able to come to court once a month and submit to a drug test. If the accused tests negative for six months, the State will agree to dismiss their case.

This is a better program that Drug Court for those who do not require drug rehabilitation. I find that this program works well for college students who may dabble in experimental drug use, but do not suffer from the physical and psychological conditions of addiction.

What judicial monitoring does is it allows a first-time offender to get their charge dismissed without having to undergo counseling or treatment. It also prevents them from having to plead guilty or no contest and possible be stuck with a criminal record.

If the accused can test negative for six months, the charge will be dropped and they can then expunge the arrest record.

Judicial monitoring in Miami-Dade County usually exists for felony drug possession, such as felony possession of marijuana (over 20 grams), possession of cocaine, or possession of any controlled substance, such as oxycodone or MDMA (ecstasy).

First-time misdemeanor drug offenders in Miami-Dade may have the option of Pretrial Diversion. In Broward, first-time misdemeanor drug offenders can enroll in Broward's Misdemeanor Drug Court.

Talk to a criminal defense attorney about whether judicial monitoring is a possibility for you. You may call me to discuss your case if you or a loved one are facing drug charges in Miami-Dade or Broward.