Drug Court in New Jersey Criminal Cases
Ocean County Drug Court Program Attorneys
Criminal Lawyers for Clients Charged with Drugs and Other Crimes in Toms River, New Jersey
Drug Court is a diversionary program that allows people charged with serious drug crimes and other criminal offenses to avoid state prison by taking part in substance abuse treatment. While this may serve as a viable means by which to avoid a conviction and a pathway toward getting your charges dismissed, not everyone who applies for this New Jersey Program is eligible. Just like most court-run programs, there are requirements that must be met before your case can be diverted from the normal trial track. However, if you are eligible, it can be a great alternative to jail and has substantial benefits to all participants. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Toms River, Seaside Heights, Jackson, Manchester Twp., Brick, or elsewhere in Ocean County and have questions about Drug Court, call our local Point Pleasant law office for a free consultation. An attorney with extensive knowledge of the New Jersey Drug Court program and its viability as an option in your case is available anytime to provide the help you need. Simply contact us at (848) 238-2100.
How do I apply for Drug Court in New Jersey?
Anyone wishing to apply for Drug Court must fill out an application. The application requires your name, address, contact information, list of previous treatment programs, and your pending criminal charges.Our attorneys can fill this out for you and submit it to the court via e-courts, and to the prosecutor. The prosecutor reviews the application and determines whether you are “legally” eligible. If legally eligible, a TASC evaluation (substance abuse evaluation) is scheduled with a person employed by the State of New Jersey who examines your substance abuse history, presenting problem, and “clinical” eligibility. Essentially, only those who have substance abuse issues will be eligible. For example, if you tell the evaluator that you “only smoke pot once in a while and I do not have a problem,” you are less likely to be considered eligible. Conversely, if you say that you have a problem with any substance, you may be deemed clinically eligible and the evaluator will make a recommendation as to what level of care is needed. It should be noted that not all applications are immediately accepted and some are, in fact, rejected.
Who is Considered Eligible for Drug Court in Ocean County NJ?
There are requirements for gaining entry into Drug Court. The State of New Jersey pays for all costs associated with your treatment and as you can imagine, they want to make sure that the money is well spent. As such, not all people applying for the program meet the necessary criteria. First, in order to qualify, you must be a New Jersey resident. New Jersey will not pay for those residing outside of the state to take part in this treatment program. Second, the offense for which you are seeking entry must be one that qualifies. This is known as “legal” eligibility. In most cases, non-violent offenders are eligible under Track I or Track II. Most people who apply for drug court are charged with offenses consistent with drug use, such as possession of CDS, shoplifting, theft of movable property, drug distribution, or even robbery. Fortunately, some crimes such as robbery and drug distribution may have mandatory minimum prison terms that can be avoided by taking part in the Drug Court program. Despite this, those charged with violent offenses such as aggravated assault or possession of a weapon may be rejected, as they may be deemed a danger to the community.
If you are legally rejected from the program, our lawyers may be able to file an appeal and seek the approval of the judge for your admission. In such a case, we will file a brief on your behalf, argue for acceptance before the court, and make a record for your legal and clinical acceptance. To be clinically accepted, you must have a substance abuse issue. Only those who have substance abuse or dependency issues are considered clinically eligible. Once deemed eligible and successfully admitted, you will be sentenced into the program.
How long does the New Jersey Drug Court Program Take?
Once sentenced to drug court, you will begin “Phase I.” There are four phases, each having different requirements and taking different periods of time to complete. Much of drug court is self-dependent and the better you do, the quicker it goes. You could be done in as little as two years, but, if you need more time, the maximum permissible time on drug court probation is 5 years.
Should I apply for Drug Court and what are the Benefits?
Drug court can be an excellent opportunity to be afforded drug treatment at no cost to you. The treatment is offered through drug court probation. During the probationary period, you will have to continue with the recommended treatment, stay sober, meet with your probation officer as directed, appear for court as required, and remain offense free. It is a more intensive type of supervision than regular probation but this is because more treatment is provided and in most cases, the person taking part in the program has a criminal history.
Additionally, for people who have a more extensive record and are not eligible for other diversionary programs such as Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI), it can be a great way to avoid jail. As an added bonus, if you successfully complete the program and graduate, your criminal record will be expunged at no cost. You are also able to avoid the waiting periods typically required for those seeking expungement of indictable offenses, disorderly persons offenses, or records with both types of convictions.
Local Point Pleasant Criminal Attorneys can Help with Your Case
Call (848) 238-2100 to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Ocean County, NJ for help with your Drug Court eligibility, application, or appeal. A member of our local criminal firm is available to provide the answers and assistance. Consultations are always provided at no cost.