Despite changing social attitudes about drug use, New York still has numerous laws restricting certain types of drug activity. Thousands of people every year run afoul of New York state drug laws and end up in criminal court as a result. The consequences of a drug conviction can include incarceration, large fines and a criminal record that can impede someone’s opportunities for the rest of their life.
Many drug offenses stem not from callous disregard for the law but instead from substance abuse disorders. New York recognizes the connection between addiction and drug abuse in one important way. The state’s drug treatment courts provide an opportunity for qualifying offenders to bypass criminal consequences while connecting with oversight and treatment that can lead to their recovery.
Certain nonviolent offenders may qualify
The involvement of interpersonal violence in a drug offense prevents someone from qualifying for drug treatment court in New York. Not only does the state look at the charge that someone currently faces but there will also be a review of someone’s criminal record. Those asking for adjudication in the drug treatment courts must have a criminal record free of violent offenses.
Both defendants facing misdemeanor charges and those accused of felony drug offenses may potentially qualify. In addition to having a history without any violent record, individuals must also have a substance abuse disorder. An evaluation establishing someone’s dependence on drugs is necessary for someone to qualify for the drug treatment courts.
People will also need to remain continually in compliance with the requirements set by the judge overseeing their cases. Generally, they will need to attend regular meetings and undergo drug screenings in order to remain compliant with the program. Failure to adhere to those rules may result in someone’s case moving to the criminal courts. They may then face standard criminal penalties and be at risk of a drug conviction on their records.
Those who are able to comply with all of the requirements set by a judge and who complete the often lengthy drug court process can move on with their lives without any criminal penalties to serve or a permanent record of a drug conviction holding them back. Ultimately, seeking legal guidance and exploring the drug treatment courts as a viable alternative to traditional criminal trials may benefit those accused of violating New York’s drug laws.