What Is Drug Court In New Jersey?
Drug court in New Jersey allows you to avoid incarceration for any type of crime that would otherwise put you in state prison. It allows you to get treatment for an underlying addiction, whether it’s drugs or alcohol. They’ll look at your record, the crime committed, and any previous record in drug court. If you have been in drug court before, that doesn’t preclude you from going to drug court again. They usually seem to err on the side of letting you into drug court. It’s more of an inclusive program. However, there have been many times where I had to fight to get people into drug court and let the judge decide if they deserve to be in drug court. They will give you the chances that you need in drug court. For example, if you have a relapse or miss a curfew, you may get a sanction. There are sanctions for a day, two days, a week, or weekend in jail to help you recognize that it is a privilege to be in the program. Otherwise, you’d be sitting in jail. They’ll give you multiple chances. They’re there to help and work with you. Due to the nature of addiction, they understand that there are going to be relapses.
Is Drug Court The Right Choice For Everyone Convicted Of A Drug Offense?
Drug court may not be the right choice for everyone who is convicted of a drug offense. You have to be a certain type of person to be eligible for drug court. You’re going to have a lot of people telling you what to do, and you’ll have to jump through many hoops in order to do it. Many people who say they don’t want to try drug court, only say so because they want to keep doing drugs. People who don’t want to do drug court are normally those who know that people will be on top of them. They’ll be watched and told do things to get them to quit doing drugs. It’s not easy. It’s very difficult, which is why they give you multiple chances. I try and convince my clients to go to drug court, even the ones that don’t want it because that’s their chance. It’s their chance of a new sober life where they get to know their kids and family again. It also helps with their job, if they still have one. Many people lose their jobs and everything else, so it’s not for everybody. If you’re not dedicated and still want to do drugs, you’re not going to be able to do drug court. There’s no fooling them. You’re going to get tested every other day or couple of times a week. It’s not worth it if you keep doing drugs.
Most people do want to recover. They want to have their life back and be a productive member of society. They’re going to take care of your crime while they’re getting you well. It’s been around for years in New Jersey. As a matter of fact, New Jersey was one of the first states to have it. I’ve been dealing with it since its inception around 1997. And so, I’ve seen the changes in drug court and how it’s evolved over time.
What Happens If Someone Violates The Rules In Place For Drug Court Or They Fail A Drug Test?
When you make a deal at the beginning of drug court, you get what’s called an alternative sentence. For instance, suppose your offer is four years in state prison, you would make a deal to do drug court instead. The alternative sentence might be for five years in prison and two years with no parole. If you fail at drug court, you’re going to do five years in prison and two without parole. You don’t get a trial. You don’t have new negotiations. You agree to that when you enter in drug court.
If you relapse, they might give you a sanction for a weekend. If you relapse again, you might get a sanction for a whole week. You might have to go back to an inpatient program if you’re not improving the right amount on an outpatient. They might make you backtrack and go back, but they’ll try a lot of different things before they’ll say that you obviously don’t want to do drug court. They’ll give you your alternative sentence if you are not able to do drug court anymore. Consequently, you’ll end up doing more time than you would have because certain programs may not count towards your whole sentence. There are penalties associated with not doing things proper in drug court. However, they’ll give you many chances before you get the alternative sentence.
If you leave and get picked up eight months later, you could still try to argue for drug court, but usually, you’ll end up doing your alternative sentence and go to state prison.
What Is The Average Length Of Time For Drug Court In New Jersey?
In New Jersey, all drug court probationary periods last five years. That doesn’t mean you can’t get off early. If you do everything that they say, get sober, and you’re well and strong, you can petition to graduate from drug court early. Drug court has graduation. It’s an actual ceremony where people get certificates and have family and friends present. It’s a big day. On the same day, some drug courts have people they’re letting in for the first time and those who are going to state prison.
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