Most people arrested and indicted for a criminal offense assume they only have two options. They can plead not guilty and go to trial, or they can plead guilty and throw themselves on the mercy of the courts.
Not everyone realizes that there is frequently a third option available for some criminal defendants. Maryland offers alternative courts for people in special circumstances. The adult drug treatment courts are a means of addressing addictions and public health issues related to substance abuse.
Decades of research have shown that those involved with the criminal justice system often have underlying addiction or mental health struggles. The drug treatment courts are designed to truly help people regain control over their lives and avoid criminal convictions.
Who can attend drug treatment court?
Maryland actually has a relatively broad drug treatment court program. People accused of many different types of offenses can ask for adjudication in the drug courts. So long as the individual can prove that they have a substance abuse disorder, they could potentially request that their case proceed through drug court instead of the standard criminal courts. Those accused of violent offenses or major felonies may not, unfortunately, qualify.
How do drug courts work?
Instead of trying to prove your innocence at trial, you ask for the courts to support you as you address a substance abuse disorder that directly contributed to your criminal incident. The drug court process takes at least 20 months in most cases, but possibly longer.
Defendants going through drug court will usually need to meet regularly with court officials. They may need to attend inpatient rehabilitation services and outpatient therapy. They will also be subject to frequent, random drug testing as part of the program. Through months of intensive support, the drug treatment courts help people address their addictions, often by identifying the underlying cause of their substance abuse.
Helping people achieve sobriety through the drug courts is a means of breaking the criminal cycle and reducing recidivism. Those who conquer their substance abuse issues will be less likely to break the same laws again in the future. Determining if you qualify for drug court proceedings could be part of your response to your pending criminal charges in Maryland.