The Virginia State Police report thousands of drug arrests every year, and an arrest can land you in significant legal trouble. While the longest sentences are for selling drugs, prosecutors are known to seek jail time for people arrested for drug use.
Drug convictions stay on your record forever, making it hard to find employment and move on with your life. Fortunately, Virginia courts sometimes offer treatment instead of jail. This can make a big difference, but it’s important to have an experienced attorney who understands how courts make their decisions negotiating on your behalf.
If you or a loved one have been charged with a drug offense in or around Roanoke, contact Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico today. We have decades of experience in Virginia drug cases and understand how to secure the best possible outcome. Call (540) 343-9349 or contact us online for a free, initial consultation.
Virginia’s Drug Court Program
Prosecutors generally seek harsh sentences for drug crimes, but Virginia’s Drug Treatment Court (DTC) may spare you from a conviction and facilitate the help you need.
Drug Courts are specialized dockets that allow the Commonwealth to save money on prison costs, but also reduce recidivism among offenders who may have addiction problems.
Virginia Code § 18.2-254.1 gives courts the ability to send drug offenders to rehab and address their underlying issues. This is not meant for every prosecution. For instance, the courts must send drug traffickers and violent offenders to prison. However, you may be eligible for Drug Court if you meet the following:
- You are a non-violent offender with a drug-related case in Virginia Circuit Court
- You are suffering from substance addiction or chemical dependencies
- Your participation, which is voluntary, has been approved by the Commonwealth’s Attorney
Drug Court Requirements
Drug Court participants must comply with the program’s requirements for between 12-18 months, which include substance abuse assessments, in or outpatient treatment, counseling, and regular drug testing. In addition to rehab and counseling, participants must appear frequently in court for the judge to review their progress. This allows for incentives for doing well and sanctions for violations.
It’s important to remember that Drug Court is hard work, reserved for people interested in doing the work and getting better. While judges may treat minor infractions and backsliders with a few days in custody without kicking them out, expulsion means facing harsh consequences for your original charges.
On the other hand, successful participants graduate and typically receive a reduced or dismissed charge upon completion.
Benefits of Drug Court
Aside from the obvious benefit of keeping a conviction off your record, Virginia’s Drug Treatment Court provides comprehensive services and requires collaboration between multiple agencies to break the cycle of addiction.
One of the main positive effects is reducing new convictions. While 17% of Drug Court participants are convicted of a new offense, this is drastically less than the 53% rate for those who did not go through the program.
The reason for this drop in new offenses can be attributed to multiple factors. For instance, the collaboration between agencies holds people accountable, maybe for the first time in their lives. Also, by requiring participants to remain employed, individuals are not removed from society. In fact, they contribute by paying taxes, remaining compliant with child support, and staying in their families’ lives.
In addition, non-violent drug offenders are kept from intensifying criminal behaviors by not mixing with more serious offenders while in prison.
Being Admitted to Drug Court
Our communities benefit greatly when people use rehab programs to overcome drug and alcohol dependency. The courts understand this; however, being admitted to Drug Court is not a guarantee.
Many times, prosecutors will not even consider it instead of jail. Both the court and the prosecution must be convinced that Drug Court is in your and the community’s best interests.
Individuals looking to take advantage of Virginia’s Drug Treatment Court are best served by working with an experienced defense lawyer. These programs require collaboration between court officers, probation officers, treatment centers, case managers, prosecutors, and most importantly judges. Your attorney can review your eligibility, assist with your application, and ultimately facilitate your successful completion of the program.
Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico Can Help
Getting adequate help for drug issues in jail or prison is incredibly difficult. If you have the desire and option to spare yourself from time behind bars, you should probably take it.
Our attorneys have years of experience working with Virginia courts and know which programs benefit you the most. Do not delay in contacting us if you are charged with a drug crime in Roanoke.
Call Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico today at (540) 343-9349 if you or a loved one have been arrested for a drug crime in the Roanoke area. We will review the details, determine if Drug Court is a realistic option in your case, and guide you through the next steps.