There is no national policy that has affected the criminal justice system more profoundly than the war on drugs. Since the campaign against drugs began in the 1980s, drug crime enforcement has been vastly expanded and jail and prison sentences for non violent drug offenders have skyrocketed. There is now no doubt that the war on drugs has had a net negative affect on our society, especially in our minority communities. Slowly, our lawmakers have seen these problems and have begun to see the error of the old ways.
In many states throughout this country, marijuana, which is a schedule I controlled substance along with heroin and methamphetamine, has become recreationally and medicinally legal. The media has begun to expose the ridiculous prison sentences handed out to those charged with low level drug offenses that sometimes eclipse the punishments meted out to people charged with violent or sexual crimes. Thought change has come around slowly in the criminal justice system, social pressure has begun to turn the tide against zealous prosecution of drug crimes. If you have found yourself charged with a drug related criminal offense, you should contact a skilled St. Petersburg criminal lawyer to fully understand your options.
One of the ways that governments have begun to change their approach to drug crimes is through diversion programs. Many diversion programs have been initiated by the legislature and by the prosecutor’s offices of each individual county. Many of those diversion programs allow first time, nonviolent offenders to get their cases dismissed by entering a probation-like program and complete some classes. The problem with many drug offenders though, is that they often have a record that their addiction contributes to. And typical diversion programs are not available to offenders with a record.
This is where drug court kicks in. Once the realization kicked in that lengthy jail or prison sentences did little or nothing to reduce drug offenses, our government leaders decided to take a new approach and passed a law mandating the creation of the drug court. With Florida Statute 397.334, the legislature instituted the Treatment-based drug court program that allowed the court system to funnel people suffering from drug addiction away from the jail cell and into treatment as an alternative. If you have been charged with a crime and you think that you might benefit from a treatment based program, you should contact an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer to discuss whether or not drug court might be right for you.
The drug court program here in Pinellas county is quite broad. Entry into the program is not reserved only for those charged with drug possession. Instead, as long as there is a nexus between the crime committed and drug abuse, a determined lawyer will be able to get you admitted to the drug court program. The program involves several months of treatment and attendance at court hearings. The court monitors entrants progress in the program, and those that complete it successfully are usually rewarded with a dismissal of their case.
Drug court however, is not for everyone. The program requires regular drug screening and mandatory attendance at treatment. We understand that many people suffering from drug addiction are not mentally or physically prepared to enter and complete such a demanding program. This is one of the reasons that it is so important to speak to an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer before making any decisions on how to handle your case. Too often we get onto clients’ cases who have entered drug court and too late realize that they will not be able to successfully complete the program.Speak to Our Lawyers Today
Before making any critical decisions regarding your criminal case, you should consult with a dedicated criminal defense lawyer. The lawyers at Hanlon Law are here to help you do just that. Contact us today at 727.289.0222.