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An alternative to trial for those facing Florida drug charges

On Behalf of | Apr 25, 2024 | Drug Crimes

Allegations that someone has violated controlled substance laws can lead to major criminal consequences. Illegal possession or intentional abuse of either prescription drugs or prohibited substances is a crime in Florida.

Many people think that the best option is to plead guilty to drug charges, but they may then have consequences that hold them back for years. Anyone who pleads guilty to such offenses might serve a sentence in prison. They may be responsible for large fines imposed by a judge. They also have a criminal record that may limit their options in life permanently.

Especially if someone doesn’t have any prior criminal record and their arrest relates to a substance abuse issue, it may be worthwhile to explore alternative options. Pleading guilty or mounting a defense against charges are not the only solutions available for someone accused of a drug offense in Florida. Some defendants might be eligible to have their cases heard in the Florida drug courts.

How drug court is different

Unlike traditional criminal court, drug court proceedings do not focus on proving that someone broke the law. Instead, what the courts do is provide supervision as someone undergoes treatment. The Florida adult drug courts focus on addressing the root cause of drug crimes and are a form of pre-trial diversion.

Drug court proceedings often take the better part of two years to complete. The defendant must qualify for drug court proceedings and follow through with all court requirements. Typically, they must present themselves for randomized drug screening as necessary. They have to attend regular hearings in drug court and undergo treatment for their substance abuse issues.

If someone fulfills all of those requirements, then they can avoid a criminal conviction and the penalties possible if they plead guilty. They can potentially move on with their lives without a permanent criminal record holding them back from the best opportunities, such as enrollment in college, better jobs and even safe rental housing. The obligation to undergo treatment can also potentially help someone overcome their substance abuse issues for a healthier future.

While drug court is a lengthy and sometimes demanding process, it could very well be the best option available to someone accused of a drug crime in Florida. Regardless, it’s worth underscoring that thoughtfully considering every option can help people minimize the negative consequences inspired by a recent arrest.