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What Are the Benefits of Going Through Drug Court Instead of a Traditional Courtroom?

Drug crimes can result in lengthy prison sentences, hefty fines, probation, community service, and other harsh penalties. Sadly, many drug offenders find themselves back in jail after serving their time because they violate probation or are arrested on a repeat drug offense. Further, many courts across the nation are brimming with drug offenders, who are typically non-violent and may have substance abuse issues. Recognizing the need to reduce the prison population and recidivism rates, Texas and other states have developed drug courts. These specialty courts deal with nothing but drug offenders, and they can be beneficial to those charged with a drug crime in the state of Texas.

The History of Drug Diversion Courts 

The first drug court was established in 1989 in Miami-Dade County. Texas took some time to adopt the idea of drug courts but began to open this type of court 15 years ago. A law in 2001 made it necessary for any jurisdiction in Texas with more than 550,000 people to apply for federal funding to set up drug courts. Drug courts are now mandatory in several counties, and their success is clear. Recidivism rates are far lower among drug court graduates.

The Drug Court Process 

Drug court diversion programs accept non-violent offenders and divert them to a court system that focuses on dealing with their addiction, as opposed to punishing them. Drug courts are all unique, but typically they will require that a defendant receive therapy, attend drug recovery meetings, complete urinalysis and show up for court appearances. Many courts will also require the completion of community service hours.  

Most participants will be in the drug court program for six months to a year.  Should a defendant fail a drug test, not fulfill program objectives, or commit another offense, they could be removed from the program and the charges against them will continue in a traditional court. If the defendant can successfully complete the drug court program, the charges will be dismissed. This can significantly assist a drug court graduate as the conviction will not be a part of their permanent record, and thus should not impact employment. 

Drug court can be time-consuming and will prove challenging for Texas defendants, but for some defendants it can be an excellent avenue to achieve dismissal of their charges. Your criminal defense lawyer will review your case to determine whether you should pursue the notion of drug court.