If you’ve got a clean criminal background and find yourself facing third-degree felony charges related to drugs, you may qualify for drug court. Drug court is a pretrial intervention program designed to divert first-time drug offenders who have been charged with a nonviolent third-degree felony away from prison and toward more supportive and rehabilitative treatment. Completion of a drug court program can prevent you from losing years of your life to imprisonment and result in the charges being removed from your criminal record.
It would be wise to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney if you’ve recently been arrested for the first time. There’s a lot involved in successfully completing a drug court program; it’s a long-term commitment, and a lawyer can help you understand exactly what would be required if you choose that option.
Drug Court Attorney in Treasure Coast, FL
The legal team at Meltzer & Bell has represented thousands of clients over the years, including many who were in the same situation you or a loved one may find themselves in right now. The penalties for even a first-time felony drug charge can be incredibly severe, so drug court may be worth considering as an alternative to prison, fines, and a criminal record. If you’re dealing with a substance abuse issue, drug court may also offer you the opportunity to get a handle on your addiction.
Contact one of the skilled attorneys at Meltzer & Bell to set up a free consultation to review your case. Our phone number is (772) 291-2534, or you can complete the online form on this page. We can help identify if you qualify for drug court and what that would mean for you. We are available any day of the week at any hour, so there’s no need to wait. Call now.
Overview of Drug Court in Treasure Coast, FL
- Who Qualifies for Drug Court in Treasure Coast, FL?
- How Does Drug Court Work in St. Lucie County, FL?
- Additional Resources
Who Qualifies for Drug Court in Treasure Coast, FL?
Drug court is described by Florida Statute 948.08(6)(a) as a pretrial substance abuse education and treatment intervention program. Admission is completely voluntary, so you cannot be forced to enter the program against your will. The program runs for a minimum of one year, but it could last longer than that depending on the individual’s needs.
You may qualify to participate in drug court if:
- You are a first-time offender. This means you have not previously been convicted of any felonies or more than one nonviolent misdemeanor;
- You are charged with a misdemeanor or a third-degree felony;
- You have received the approval of the drug court program administrator;
- The state attorney, the judge presiding at your initial appearance, and the victim (if any) provide their consent; and
- After consulting with an attorney, you voluntarily agree to enter the program and waive your right to a trial while you are participating in the drug court program.
The same statute further defines those who may qualify for the program, including:
- A person who is charged with a nonviolent felony and who has a substance abuse issue; or
- Someone facing second-degree or third-degree felony charges for purchasing or possessing a controlled substance, soliciting for purchase of a controlled substance, obtaining a prescription by fraud, prostitution, or tampering with evidence.
If the state attorney can provide evidence that you were involved with dealing or trafficking of a controlled substance, you will not be granted permission to admit to the drug court program. You may also not be permitted to participate in drug court if you are on record as rejecting drug court previously.
How Does Drug Court Work in St. Lucie County, FL?
After your attorney confirms your eligibility for the program with the assistant state attorney, you will make an initial visit to drug court. The purpose of this visit is for you to observe and determine whether you are interested in participating in drug court. You must inform the judge of your decision after this initial observation.
If you choose to participate, you will need to speak with an evaluator. The evaluator will ask you about your history of drug use in order to recommend which of the drug court programs they think will best suit you. You may be recommended to participate in an intervention (education), full, or inpatient treatment program, depending on your unique situation.
You must then return to criminal court to enter a no-contest plea and accept drug court; alternatively, you may opt out of drug court and return to traditional court to face your pending charges there. A key feature of drug court is that your sentencing will be postponed once you begin the program. If you complete the full duration of your drug court program, your charges will be dropped. However, if you fail to complete drug court, you will face sentencing.
Pretrial intervention program | Florida Statutes Section 948.08 – The Florida Legislature publishes Florida’s complete collection of laws on their official website, Online Sunshine. This statute in particular outlines various programs, such as counseling, education, supervision, medical, and psychological treatment, to be made available to appropriate offenders. These programs are intended to serve as an alternative to trying and sentencing a defendant who may benefit more from assistance than punishment.
Treatment-based drug court programs | Florida Statutes Section 397.334 – This statute focuses specifically on treatment-based drug court programs. You can read in detail about the establishment of Florida’s drug courts, the guiding principles behind the program, reporting requirements, and other related administrative information.
Drug Courts | Florida Courts – Visit the official Florida Courts website for a summarized look at the state’s drug court programs. Here you will find a brief historical background of Florida’s drug courts and links to court-recommended resources. You can also find links to comprehensive annual drug court data.
Defense Lawyer for Drug Court in Treasure Coast, FL
Drug court may be an excellent alternative to felony charges and prison time. If you or someone you love is facing drug-related charges in the greater Treasure Coast area, including Port St. Lucie, Stuart, Palm City, and Fort Pierce in Martin County and St. Lucie County, contact Meltzer & Bell. While opting for drug court could keep you out of prison, you would still be responsible for meeting the strict requirements of the program to avoid being removed and returned to traditional court for sentencing.
It would be in your best interest to contact Meltzer & Bell today at (772) 291-2534 or by filling out our online form. One of our accomplished criminal defense attorneys can take a look at your case, help determine your eligibility for drug court, and give you an idea of what to expect if you choose to enter the program. Drug court is an opportunity for a second chance. Contact us today to see if it could work for you.