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New York's drug treatment courts

In some cases, individuals charged on drug offenses in New York may be eligible to participate in drug treatment court, which is a drug diversion program. Reportedly, there are 146 courts operating in the state, and they permit certain non-violent drug offenders to have their charges reduced in exchange for participating in court-supervised drug treatment programs.

The basic concept behind the drug treatment courts began in 1989, when jurists in Miami noticed that there was a positive correlation between drug addiction and criminal drug charges. Policymakers created drug diversion programs with the hope that law enforcement officials, prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys and drug treatment specialists would work together to fight the root cause of drug-related crimes. As of Aug. 1, 2014, there have been 85,415 people in New York accepted into these programs through drug treatment courts, reportedly.

Individuals may be eligible to participate in a drug diversion program whether they are facing misdemeanor or felony charges. In order to qualify, drug addiction must have been a contributing factor in the individual's offense. When individuals are charged for drug crimes where child neglect was a component, they may be able to participate in a family drug treatment court. After successful completion of the program, participants may have their drug charges reduced or dismissed.

Speaking with a criminal defense attorney may help individuals discover whether they qualify for participation in a drug diversion program. This may be one viable option for some individuals accused of drug crimes to avoid the severe penalties that can accompany convictions. When defendants do wish to pursue drug treatment court, having an attorney to represent their case and advocate their interests is essential.

Source: NY Courts, "Drug Treatment Courts", October 24, 2014

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