Alabama law allows for each county and city in the state to create a Drug Court program. Not all counties and cities have drug court programs. For many people, drug court is a great option. Upon completion of the program, the drug charge is dismissed. Drug court is a wonderful opportunity for those persons with problems to get their lives in order. For some clients, drug court has the added benefit that they can avoid jail, especially when the evidence against them is strong or they have an extensive criminal record and do not want to risk a trial. Drug court is available for possession of controlled substance and marijuana possession charges. There are similar programs available in some cities and counties for DUI and Domestic Violence charges.
Drug Court candidates are required to do the following for up to one (1) year:
- Check in weekly or monthly with a Drug Court Case Manager.
- Show up on time to all court appearances.
- Stay drug and alcohol free during the program.
- Submit to random drug and alcohol tests.
- Call a color code phone number every day to see if you must go drug test within 24 hours.
- Pay for random drug and alcohol tests.
- Perform community service hours.
- Pay fines and court costs, and the costs of the Drug Court program.
- Pay Restitution.
- Attend self-help meetings including Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
- Obtain employment.
- Obtain a GED.
- Obey all laws and not pick up any new criminal charges or major traffic violations.
Is Drug Court Worth All the Trouble?
If Drug Court participants do not follow each and every rule of their program, they face “sanctions” from the Court.
- Jail time as determined by the judge.
- Extra community service hours.
- An increase in counseling, meetings, and drug and alcohol testing.
- Electronic monitoring (ankle bracelet).
- Admission into an inpatient rehab facility.
- Extension of Drug Court completion date.
- Termination from the Drug Court program and conviction and sentencing under the original charge.
- Other sanctions at the discretion of the judge.
Although Drug Court is a good choice for some, a person must be ready to follow the rules without question. If you are late for court, expect to be put in jail, at least for the weekend. If you are late for a drug test or miss a test, it counts as a positive or “dirty” test, and you should expect to be placed in jail for a week. If you continue to break the rules, expect to be thrown out of drug court and sentenced under the original charge.
The programs are strict, but the outcome is guaranteed and the benefits great. The sure-thing of a dismissed charge is appealing for some, but you must be prepared to live under close supervision (similar to Probation) for a time. Also, once your case is dismissed, you will have the option to seek an Expungement.
An experienced Birmingham, Alabama criminal defense attorney can help you decide if this program is right for you.
The Alabama Code section on Drug Courts can be found here: Creation of the DC System.