A significant number of people serving time in prison are there because of a drug-related incident; either they are charged with sale or possession of a controlled substance, or they were under the influence of drugs when they were involved in another crime. The overall cost to society is significant and prisons may not offer drug treatment and rehabilitation. To address this growing problem, many states like Connecticut offer pretrial diversionary programs for drug offenders. If you have been charged with a crime in which drugs are involved, you should ask a Greenwich criminal lawyer about this valuable option.
Pretrial diversion is a program designed to rehabilitate an offender and allow for treatment and restitution prior to a trial or conviction. The goal is to provide a way for a person who has committed certain offenses, such as drug or alcohol charges, to get help without being saddled with a criminal record. Certain requirements are set for treatment and probation. If the individual completes all of the stipulations successfully, then they can have the charges dropped.
If you are charged with a drug related offense, don’t just plead guilty without speaking with a Greenwich criminal attorney first to see if you can qualify for a pre-trial diversionary program. Many people who are faced with the choice of going to trial on stiffer charges or accepting a plea to a reduced felony charge do not appreciate the impact that can have on their future. Certain government loans and tax credits are not available to people who have ever had a felony drug conviction. In addition, many employers specifically eliminate any applicants with drug convictions.
The first and most obvious benefit is that people in diversionary programs are allowed to maintain their freedom, live with their families in most cases, and continue working. They and their families are spared the trauma of incarceration and the interruption in financial and emotional support.
Drug diversionary programs are designed to offer people an opportunity to receive therapy and to emerge with a clean record. Anyone placed in a diversionary program must complete extensive counseling, pay the associated fees, submit to drug and alcohol testing and sometimes complete community service work. The treatment period is generally longer than what would be offered through private treatment, but the whole purpose of the program is to give a person the opportunity to become substance free and regain control of his life.
Once the program is completed, the charges are dropped. The defendant has an opportunity to start over with a clean record.
Your Greenwich criminal lawyer can also inform you of recent changes in CT law which added additional options for drug diversion. One of these new approaches was the creation of “drug courts” in certain jurisdictions which handle referred cases for non-violent offenders who are drug dependent. Defendants are monitored by the court for a period of 12 to 15 months. During this time they undergo court order substance abuse treatment, submit to drug and alcohol testing and make frequent court appearances to monitor progress. The courts have a broad range of treatment programs available as well as educational and vocational training. The goal is to “decrease criminal behavior and reduce substance abuse”. Upon successful completion of the drug court program can result in a clearing of the charges.
The state also offers a Drug Education Program for people who are charged with possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia. A defendant must apply for this program. Once the application is received, the court file is sealed. If the program is successfully completed, then the drug charges will be dropped.
If you have been charged with a DWI, then you may qualify for an alcohol diversion program. Laws regarding alcohol offenses have become increasingly harsh, and three convictions from any state in the last 10 years will result in a felony conviction with mandatory incarceration, so it is crucial to take the charges seriously, even if it is your first offense.
A person charged with driving under the influence can apply for the CT Alcohol Education Program. This program works in the same way as the Drug Education Program. Once the application has been received, the court file is sealed. When the program has been successfully completed, the charges will be dropped.
Don’t let a DUI or drug charge derail your life. Work with a Greenwich Criminal Lawyer and let a CT diversionary program help you get your life on track and keep your record clean.
Mark Sherman, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Fordham University of Law, has been a member in good standing of the Connecticut, New York and Florida state bars since 1998. He has offices in Stamford, Connecticut and New York, New York, and practices in both locations. He has been recognized as a top business professional by the Fairfield County Business Journal and has been honored as a “Super Lawyer” by both New England and Connecticut Super Lawyers for 2011 and 2012.