For many people, an issue with prescription medication or heroin starts with an injury. A doctor prescribes them pain medication and then eventually ends the prescription, leaving them with pain or a sense of dependence on the medicine.
Once someone has developed a substance abuse issue, their risk for involvement with the criminal justice system increases. Not only is the possession of these drugs a legal risk on its own, but the need for an ongoing supply of that drug could lead to other criminal activity, like shoplifting or burglary.
Sometimes, people accused of nonviolent offenses related to addiction in Texas can seek adjudication in the drug court as a way to avoid everything that comes with a criminal conviction.
The drug courts are beneficial for those accused and the public
Typically, those accused of a crime enter a plea and then either wait for sentencing or seek to defend themselves in open court. In drug court, someone admits that they broke the law but claims that their behavior was a reflection of a substance abuse issue.
The focus of drug court proceedings is to help someone overcome prior problematic behavior by addressing the underlying addiction that drove those actions. Drug court proceedings in Texas have so far proven to be successful at dramatically reducing the recidivism rate among participants.
According to data about those who successfully complete drug court, their three-year recidivism rate was just 3.4%, which is a fraction of the 26.6% rate seen in those who go through criminal court.
How the Texas drug courts work
Provided that the individual and their circumstances meet the requirements set by the state, they can qualify for pretrial diversion in the drug courts instead of criminal proceedings. The person going through drug court will need to frequently interact with the judge presiding over their case and numerous other court employees.
Substance abuse counseling, inpatient rehabilitation support and other forms of treatment are often compulsory. Participants will also be subject to a randomized drug screening. When someone successfully completes the requirements established by the Texas drug court for their case, they will avoid prosecution and criminal consequences. They will also be able to move on without a criminal record for the events that led them to drug court.
Drug court proceedings do take more time than just entering a guilty plea, but they can significantly mitigate the worst consequences of a drug-related charge on someone’s life.