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Drug Court: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Drug Court is not for everyone. Keep that in mind before you commit to it, because after all - it is a commitment.

Florida statutes permits court-supervised treatment programs for those charged with non-violent, non-sale, non-trafficking drug possession offenses.

For those charged with drug possession (such as possession of cocaine) who truly need the counseling and the intervention in order to treat their addiction, Drug Court is a great program. For true addicts who are motivated to receive treatment, Drug Court may be able to help. In addition to providing counseling and drug treatment, you may be able to get your charge or charges dismissed at the end of your Drug Court term. If you are not eligible to have your case dismissed due to priors, you may receive a withhold of adjudication at the end.

But understand that Drug Court is a one-year program at a minimum. It can go beyond a year if you are not in compliance. Not being in compliance means that you are not attending meetings, not reporting to your counselor, or testing positive. In fact, if you test positive for drugs while in Drug Court, the judge can order you into custody for treatment. You could be in custody up to 180 days.

If you are not a drug addict or a recreational user and your arrest was a one-time thing, Drug Court may not be for you. You may not - and probably should not - commit to a one-year program designed for drug addicts. There are alternative ways of resolving your drug possession case. Or if there are strong legal defects in your case, you may want to fight the charges.

Drug Court helps those who want to be helped. It may also be a good way to resolve your case, provided you are willing to comply with the program requirements for at least one year.

If you were arrested for possession of marijuana in Broward County, you may be eligible for Misdemeanor Drug Court. This is a six-month program, but it requires the same level of dedication as felony Drug Court. If you test positive for marijuana or any substance, you may be taken into custody. You may also find your time in Misdemeanor Drug Court extended if you do not comply.

There are rewards for doing well in Drug Court. If deemed an "All-Star," you may not have to report to court as often (45 and 60-day resets instead of 30). You may also find that you complete Drug Court in one year, instead of a year and a half or longer if you are not doing well.

Most of all, if you suffer from drug addiction, you may find that Drug Court was exactly what you needed to help you get clean. And of course, you get the benefit of not having a drug conviction on your record.

Going into Drug Court is a big decision. You should talk to a criminal defense attorney prior to making that decision.