Social awareness of how addiction intersects with criminal activity has forced major changes in how the states handle certain criminal offenses. For example, the creation of New Jersey drug courts – also known as recovery courts – has introduced an invaluable alternative to the traditional criminal adjudication process. These courts offer a unique form of pretrial diversion that can change lives for the better.
Someone accused of a non-violent offense related to substance abuse can potentially ask to attend drug court proceedings instead of defending themselves in criminal court. In criminal court, when someone pleads guilty, they are at the mercy of a judge who will sentence them to criminal penalties if they are convicted.
In recovery court, the defendant acknowledges certain misconduct while asking for support to address an underlying substance abuse disorder. Here are some of the benefits of opting for a recovery court process if you qualify to take advantage of this option.
1. You’ll avoid a criminal record
You don’t actually plead guilty in drug court in the same way that you would in the criminal courts. Provided that you complete the program successfully, there won’t be a conviction on your permanent record. Especially for those for whom this was their first arrest, recovery court can help them limit the impact of their actions for the rest of their lives.
2. There are no criminal penalties
Drug offenses often lead to license suspension, jail time and fines. While there are many requirements associated with fulfilling drug court obligations successfully – including educational programs and substance abuse counseling – those requirements will not involve incarceration. Individuals can avoid the trauma frequently associated with prison and reduce the financial consequences of their criminal charges as well, simply by opting for drug court instead of a traditional criminal proceeding.
3. Defendants can regain control over their lives
Those struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism may feel like they have no control over their lives. They may feel powerless to create any meaningful change. Recovery courts can help give people their feeling of personal control back by assisting them in understanding and overcoming their substance abuse issues. The requirements of drug court help to facilitate sobriety and may even give someone the tools they need to maintain their newfound sobriety indefinitely.
Reviewing your criminal record and current accusations carefully can help you determine if the New Jersey drug courts might be a viable alternative in your case. Speaking with a legal professional can also help you to clarify your options.