Are There Any Alternative Programs For Drug Offenders In Texas?
In Harris County, we have something called Reintegration Court, which is where you go if you’re charged with your first felony drug offense and it involves a small amount of drugs. If you’re a good candidate, you will likely be offered a pretrial diversion agreement, which is a type of agreement with the state where you’ll be put on a form of probation for a year. You may be required to undergo drug counseling, treatment, community service, etc. If you successfully complete everything at the end of a year, then you will be discharged from the agreement, the case will be dismissed, and you will not have a conviction. Within two years of finishing your pretrial diversion, you will be able to apply to have your case expunged of your record.
If it’s not your first drug offense, there are still options available that can prevent the charge from going on your record. Prosecutors and judges understand that addiction is a tough thing to beat, so just because you’ve gotten a second drug charge, it doesn’t mean you’re going to prison. You can still be eligible for deferred adjudication, a type of probation that can be sealed from public view if you successfully complete it. It will still be on your record, but you can honestly answer to employers that you’ve never been convicted or arrested for a drug offense. As with pretrial diversion, you will likely have to attend drug treatment. You will be assessed by the community supervision department and they’ll recommend to the judge what type of treatment you should get and how intensive it should be.
Those with severe addictions and multiple drug convictions may still be eligible for probation and treatment through the STAR (Success Through Addiction Recovery) Drug Court Program. It’s an extremely intensive program that you have to apply for and not everyone meets the required criteria, but it may be an option depending on your situation. Even if you’re not eligible for STAR court and your history is bad, there’s always a chance of getting probation with in custody treatment.
The good news is that if you’re charged with possession of a small amount of drugs, unless your history or the facts of your case are really bad, everyone in the criminal justice system wants you to get treatment.
For some clients, it can be helpful to start attending Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or treatment through an inpatient or outpatient rehab facility before a plea in order to show the court that you’re serious about changing your behavior and coming to terms with your addiction. This can often convince a judge to put you on a deferred adjudication when the drug amount or the circumstances of the case are such that he or she might otherwise not be inclined to do so.
Of course, if there’s any hint that you might have been selling drugs, probation is much harder to get.
For marijuana, there is a special program the Harris County District Attorney’s Office offers to those charged with misdemeanor amounts of marijuana. This program is offered to you in the squad car instead of you getting charged with possession of marijuana, so it’s not something that I or other defense attorneys ever really deal with . The requirements are strict and can be found here.
Even if you’re not eligible for this program when you’re arrested, there are still pretrial diversion programs and agreements that can be reached in misdemeanor courts so that you don’t end up with a conviction for possession of marijuana.
In short, there is no shortage of programs for people charged with drug possession, but your eligibility is going to depend on the type of drugs, the amount, your criminal history, and the circumstances of your arrest.
For more information on Alternative Programs For Drug Offenders, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (713) 936-4521 today.
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