If you’re facing drug charges, you could be eligible for the Drug Court program.
The Drug Court is a unique program that is run with the aim of helping offenders stay clean and, in turn, staying away from drug-related crime.
Aside from helping participants steer clear of drugs, the program can help you achieve a more lenient penalty or sentence, as the judge and other facilitators of the program will provide a report to the court which details your participation in the program. The courts will generally look favorably on positive progress made in the Drug Court program and may substantially reduce your penalty.
Am I eligible for Drug Court?
There are certain criteria which you must meet in order to be considered to be eligible for the Drug Court program:
- You must be referred by the Local or District Court;
- You must be over 18;
- You must live in the catchment area, which includes much of Western Sydney, as well as the Central Coast (the Drug Court operates in Parramatta, Sydney City and Toronto);
- You must be facing court for an offence and there must be a high likelihood of you being sent to gaol;
- You must want to participate in the Drug Court program
As well as this, there are certain criteria that will prevent you from being considered for the program. You will not be eligible for Drug Court where:
- You’ve been charged with a violent or sexual offence, such as robbery or indecent assault
- You are suffering from a mental illness that affects your ability to participate in the program
It can be hard to get into the Drug Court program even if you are eligible – due to the high demand for the program, names are randomly drawn out of a hat. This means that if your name is not drawn, you could miss out on participating in the program.
However, there may be other options available to you, such as the MERIT (Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment) Program that is similar to the Drug Court program and could also help you achieve a more lenient penalty.
If you’re interested in seeking treatment for your drug problems, or if you want to know how these programs could help you get a better outcome in your case, you should speak to an experienced drug lawyer about which program is suitable for you.
How does the drug court work?
Drug Court is run in a similar fashion to a rehabilitation clinic, as it will generally require you to undertake a detoxification, after which you will be expected to stay off drugs.
The program involves three stages; initiation and stabilization, consolidation and reintegration. Ultimately, the program aims to get you living back in the community and supporting yourself.
Various measures will be provided to help you steer clear of drugs – for example, you might be required to live in a residential rehabilitation centre, or go on the methadone program.
You will also be subject to monitoring and drug testing by the court – for example, the court may send people to visit you at home and ensure that you are complying with the program, and you may be required to come to court each week so that the court is updated on your progress.
All of this may seem a bit daunting, but ultimately the program will help you in the long run. As well as helping you stay off drugs, the facilitators of the program can help you find safe accommodation, as well as employment in the community, so that you get the best possible chance of turning your life around.
How can the drug court help me?
Although the primary aim of the Drug Court is to help participants stay off drugs and get their lives back on track, the Drug Court can provide other benefits.
One of the best things about the program s that it can help you achieve more lenient outcome if you are before court for another offence.
If you’re facing charges in relation to another offence and you are admitted into the Drug Court program, the court can put off sentencing until after you’ve completed the program.
Once you have completed the Drug Court program, the judge and other people who run the Drug Court can prepare a report for the court which details your participation and involvement in the Drug Court program.
If you’ve made a positive effort to steer clear of drugs, you could end up with a much lighter penalty than you otherwise would have got – in some cases, this could mean the difference between going to gaol and staying in the community.
To find out more about the Drug Court and how it can help you, speak to one of the experts at Sydney Drug Lawyers on (02) 9264 5778 today.