Facing criminal charges in North Carolina for drug crimes is a serious problem. However, the state has been working to help those who are charged with drug crimes as a result of a substance use disorder, which is why they now offer specialized drug courts in the state.
Recovery programs in North Carolina drug courts help to provide much-needed mental health and medical care for those who are struggling with substance abuse – and who break the law as a result. Here’s what you need to know about North Carolina Drug Courts, how you qualify, and how an attorney may be able to help your case.
What Are Drug Courts in North Carolina?
As you may have guessed by the name, Drug Courts in North Carolina are specialized courts for those with substance abuse disorders. The programs put forth by these courts offer people the chance to enter drug treatment and complete court supervision instead of going to jail.
It’s an intensive program that requires those participating to take recovery seriously and shoulder the responsibilities placed on them by the court. They must also work very hard to change the way they were living, so they can live sober and no longer commit the drug crimes for which they were arrested.
In these courts, the judge supervises the progress of those in the programs. The main goal of these courts is to impact communities positively by producing real change in the lives of residents – and to reduce crime involving drugs.
Do You Quality for North Carolina Drug Court?
The drug court programs in North Carolina are meant for people who are charged with or who have been convicted of drug crimes. They target those who are likely to reoffend due to their substance abuse disorder.
There is no universal model for this type of court, and you may notice small differences between jurisdictions, but in general, you qualify for drug court if:
- You face a Class H or Class I felony
- You have a medical diagnosis of borderline chemical dependency or chemical dependency
In most jurisdictions, if you meet eligibility criteria, then you are diverted from the more traditional court model to drug court before you plead. This is what is referred to as “deferred prosecution” or “pre-trial prosecution.”
The other way that people make it into the drug court system is by first pleading guilty to their charges. Their sentence is then suspended or deferred during their participation in the program. That model is referred to as “post-adjudication drug treatment court.”
How Are Drug Courts Different?
Drug court programs don’t simply leave people to tackle their substance abuse issues on their own. They also help to support people while they are in recovery.
Successful completion of a drug court program will mean the underlying drug crime is expunged from their record or the charges dismissed. However, if they don’t complete the program, then the case will proceed as it would through any other criminal justice system, meaning possible jail time and fines.
In most cases, the programs offered by drug courts will help them to work on strategies for maintaining long-term recovery. They might require the offender to complete drug tests frequently, provide clinical treatment, offer individual case management services, compel the offender to frequently appear in court, and extend encouragement and support from the team through the drug court.