A 39-year-old woman from southern Alabama recounted recently for a newspaper reporter how a rough patch in her life quickly spiraled out of control.
In short succession, she was forced to cope with the deaths of her fiancé, a beloved aunt, her father and stepfather. She gained more than 100 pounds, was depressed and lost her job.
It got worse when she was pulled over on a routine traffic stop and found herself facing up to 20 years behind bars. According to authorities, officers discovered all the necessary materials for the manufacture of methamphetamine, plus about $8,000. It was the low point in her life.
Our Birmingham drug defense lawyers understand she is now drug-free – and free to go about her life, as all the charges against her have been dropped, following her recent completion of the county's drug court.
Drug courts represent a relatively new approach to dealing with drug-related crimes. The goal is reparative rather than punitive.
Acceptance into a drug court program can mean the difference between a year or two of intensive, treatment-based court oversight and many years behind bars. Those who successfully complete the program may have the opportunity to have all criminal charges against them dropped and they may even be provided with career assistance to help them maintain a successful sobriety.
However, access to drug court is not a given for all who are arrested for drug-related crimes. There are specific requirements, and convincing the prosecutors and judge that you belong there may not be easy. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side to make the argument on your behalf often makes all the difference.
The Birmingham Municipal Adult Drug Court is a possibility for those who have been charged with one or more qualifying misdemeanor offenses and who want to stay clean, but have found themselves rendered powerless against their addictions. Those arrested for felonies may potentially qualify if your defense lawyer can successfully negotiate to have those charges reduced to misdemeanors – sometimes with the express intent of gaining you access to the program.
It's a four-phase, collaborative intervention operation that involves your defense attorney, the prosecutor, the drug court coordinator, your case manager, a treatment specialist and a probation officer.
Participants have to appear in court on a regular basis, or face arrest and possible removal from the program. Before each appearance, the judge will be given a progress report that will detail the results of your random drug testing, your participation and cooperation in the treatment program and any other case-specific requirements the judge has imposed.
You also agree to give up certain rights to privacy, and allow that your person, property, vehicle and residence is open to potential search by the drug court coordinator or any law enforcement officer with reasonable suspicion.
The entire process lasts a minimum of 13 months, possibly longer depending on your situation. You are also responsible for covering the cost of the program, which is $1,200, though sliding scale options are available.
It's a lot to give up, but there is potentially much to be gained. It's a decision you should only make after careful consideration with your attorney, who will help you determine whether it's a viable option for your case.
If you have been arrested for a drug crime in Birmingham and have questions about whether you may be a candidate for drug court, contact Drug Crime Defense Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.