New York Drug Treatment Court

Drug Treatment Court is a type of alternative sentencing that allows eligible non-violent offenders who are addicted to drugs or alcohol to complete a treatment program and upon successful completion, get the criminal charges reduced or dismissed. It is one of 7 "Problem-Solving" courts in New York. The others are Integrated Domestic Violence Courts, Domestic Violence Courts, Mental Health Courts, Sex Offense Courts, Youthful Offender Domestic Violence Courts and Community Courts. There are 147 Drug Treatment Courts in New York. Ninety are in the criminal court system, 35 in family courts, 7 in town and village courts, and 15 are for juveniles. Over 80,000 people have participated in New York State court drug treatment programs and over 30,000 have graduated. In order participate in the Drug Treatment Court program you must meet certain eligibility guidelines and you must agree to participate by the terms of the program. If you fail to do so, you may end up in jail. Drug Treatment Court is an attractive form of alternative sentencing as it not only allows you to receive substance abuse treatment, but it also allows you to have the criminal charges reduced or even dismissed. However, even though you would like to go to the Drug Treatment Court program does not mean that you do not need representation during the criminal process. The option of going to the Drug Treatment Court program is not automatic and includes an involved supervision process. Thus, if you have been charged with a criminal offense and may benefit from Drug Treatment Court you should immediately contact an experienced New York drug crimes lawyer who will review the facts of your case and explain to you your legal options, including the possibility of going to Drug Treatment Court. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have decades of experience representing clients who have been charged with drug crimes and other serious crimes such as assault, domestic violence and sex crimes. Find out what we can do for you by contacting us to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

Eligible crimes

Under New York Criminal Procedure, in order to be considered for Drug Treatment Court, the crime that you are charged with must be a non-violent drug crime. N.Y. CPL § 216.05. Eligible crimes include class B, C, D, or E felonies involving controlled substances or marijuana. N.Y. Pub. Law §§ 220 and 221. Examples of covered offenses include controlled substance offenses criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminally possessing a hypodermic instrument, or criminally using drug paraphernalia. Covered offenses also include marijuana crimes such as unlawful possession of marijuana, criminal possession of marijuana, and criminal sale of marijuana.

Drug crimes that are specifically excluded are class A-I and class A-II felonies such as criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree, and operating as a major trafficker.

In addition, if you have a violent crime conviction within the last 10 years or you have been convicted of a class A drug crime, you are not eligible for the Drug Treatment Court program.

Arraignment

If you are arrested for a crime that would make you eligible for Drug Treatment Court, you must first go through the arraignment process. After you are arrested and taken to the local police precinct, you will then be taken to Central Booking where you will remain until your arraignment hearing. At the arraignment hearing you will learn the charges against you. You will also learn the amount of bail you must post, if any.

Alcohol and substance abuse evaluation

Under New York criminal procedure, after the arraignment and before a guilty plea or the beginning of the criminal trial, you may request an alcohol and substance abuse evaluation. N.Y. CPL § 216.00. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine whether you have a substance abuse problem and whether you will benefit from the Drug Treatment Court program.

Judicial diversion hearing

After the evaluation a hearing will be held during which you request to be placed into the Drug Treatment Court program, referred to as judicial diversion. Both your defense team and the prosecutor will present evidence at the hearing. The Court will consider:

  • Whether in the past 10 years you have been convicted of a violent felony.
  • Whether you have a history of alcohol or substance abuse
  • Where alcohol or substance abuse contributed to your criminal behavior
  • Whether participating in the Drug Treatment Court program could effectively address your alcohol or substance abuse problem
  • Whether institutional confinement is necessary to protect the public

If the court offers you the option of Drug Treatment Court, you can accept the offer or decline it. If you accept the offer then you will have to plead guilty to the criminal charges. This means that you will have to plead guilty to the criminal charges and immediately enter the program. If you are not eligible for the program or choose not to enter it, then your case will proceed through the normal criminal justice process. N.Y. CPL § 216.05(4). You will also have to agree to follow several rules which may include participating in an alcohol or substance abuse treatment program, showing up at periodic court appearances, providing periodic urine samples, and refraining from engaging in criminal behavior.

Should you successfully complete the Drug Treatment Court program there are several ways the court may dispose of your original criminal charges. In fact, in some cases the original charges are ultimately dismissed.

Consequences of failing to follow the program

If you fail to follow the Drug Treatment Court program, you will be ordered to court where the judge may throw you out of the Drug Treatment Court program and resentence you to prison. You may withdraw from the program at any time. If you do, then the court will determine the appropriate disposition of your criminal case. The result may be that you end up in prison.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have been charged with a drug crime in New York and you also have a substance abuse problem, you may be able to avoid a harsh prison sentence and instead be permitted to take advantage of Drug Treatment Court. However, you will need an experienced attorney to help ensure that you are sent to this program if you are eligible. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been accused of drug crimes and who were sent to Drug Treatment Court. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of drug crimes in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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