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Drug Court

Drug court is a sentencing scheme for individuals facing drug charges in Arizona. The drug court is a program that lasts for at least one year and is similar to probation. In addition to offering treatment and behavior change for the offenders, you can reduce the penalties for your crimes as soon as you complete the program. The program offers cognitive-based drug monitoring and outpatient counseling for offenders.

Although drug court is less strict and has different goals from the criminal court, you have a right to have legal guidance. Since not all crimes are eligible for drug court, your attorney can negotiate drug court as part of your sentence. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we will provide you with the legal guidance and representation you need when your case is moved to drug court.

Overview of Drug Court in Arizona

The war against drugs has been a struggle in the United States. This has seen thousands of individuals face incarceration for drug-related offenses. However, punishing these individuals with jail time has not solved the problems. Therefore, in 1996 Arizona voters approved the treatment-based program known as the drug court. In drug court, individuals convicted for drug-related offenses can undergo rehabilitation as long as they meet the criteria and avoid a felony conviction.

All counties have the discretion to create the terms and procedures in their drug courts. However, most drug court processes begin when an eligible defendant pleads guilty, and the drug court assigns them to probation. Probation sentencing opens up opportunities for drug treatment. The drug court team devises a treatment service aimed at preventing recidivism for individuals with a high risk of involvement in drug-related crimes.

The drug court team consists of the public defender, the judge, county attorney, and probation officer. Drug court participants will randomly undergo up to eight drug tests every month. Also, you may need to attend support group meetings and group counseling. To encourage the utilization of treatment services, individuals in Arizona drug court must participate in the health literacy classes.

The drug could need the participants of the drug program to enter a behavioral contract that outlines their goals and responsibilities within a specific time. Compliance with the terms of the program may result in incentives or sanctions. For example, the contract will specify counseling requirements for fees, meeting with the probation officer, and decreased reporting.

Eligibility for Drug Court

You are eligible to participate in the Arizona Drug court under these circumstances:

  • You need to be addicted to drugs or have drug dependency issues.

  • You must not have a prior conviction for a felony, sex offense, or non-violent offense.

  • You are currently facing drug charges for a crime that is eligible for probation.

  • You have not been part of the drug program in the past.

  • You do not have more than one prior felony conviction.

Not all drug crimes can send you to Arizona drug court. Some crimes must be resolved the traditional way in criminal court. Some of the crimes that cannot be handled in a drug court include:

  • Sex offenses.

  • Serious offenses are charged under ARS 13-706.

  • Crimes that are not eligible for probation.

  • Dangerous crimes.

If you face an arrest and charges for a crime and feel that you are eligible for drug court, it would be wise to seek competent legal guidance. As part of your sentence, your attorney may negotiate with the prosecutor to have you placed in drug court, where your charges result in less serious consequences.

Terms of Probation for Drug Court in Arizona

If you are eligible to participate in drug court and your crime does not fall under the above category, probation will be an option. If you complete your probation successfully, your sentence for the drug crime could be reduced or the conviction set aside. Often the program in drug court lasts up to one year. If you plead guilty to the alleged drug offense and you wish to enter the drug treatment program, you may be required to complete the following terms of probation:

  1. Stay in School or maintain full-time employment. While in drug court probation, you will be required to maintain stable employment or be a full-time student throughout the probation period. Having a job will hold you accountable and reduce the chances of probation violations.

  2. Sign a contract each time you appear in court discussing the next steps in your program

  3. Regular check-ins with the probation officer. As you serve probation for drug-related crimes, the court will assign a probation officer to your case. As a probation term, you will need to contact your probation officer regularly to report your progress.

  4. Make regular superior court appearances. Often serving probation allows you to change and pay back for your crimes out of jail. However, the court may issue an order requiring you to appear in a superior court regularly.

  5. Random drug testing. When you are serving probation after drug charges, you will be required to submit to frequent and random drug testing

  6. Follow up on the terms of the contract. When you decide to follow through with the program in drug court, you will need to sign a contract stating all the activities in which you will participate during the program. As a requirement for your probation, you must follow through with the terms of the contract you signed.

Drug court lasts for up to one year and happens in three steps. The first step lasts up to 20 weeks, and you will need to report your progress to the court regularly, complete your treatment program, remain sober, and attend support group meetings.

The second step of drug court will last for not less than 12 weeks, and you will need to contact your probation officer and complete a relapse prevention program. Finally, the court requires you to report to the court every eight weeks and complete an aftercare program in the program's final step. Once you complete the program, you will be eligible to have your charges dismissed or felony charges reduced to a misdemeanor.

There are several types of drug courts in Arizona, including:

Family Drug Court

The family drug court focuses on protecting children whose parents are undergoing a divorce or are caught up in the use of drugs. When a parent loses their parental rights due to substance abuse, Arizona has a treatment program that helps them restore these rights. The family drug court program was designed to monitor the progress of parents and guardians with drug dependency issues and help them towards recovery.

In the drug family court, parents who have an addiction to drugs receive the skills they need to live in a drug-free environment and restore healthy relationships with their children. However, the court always wants to see a parent involved in their child’s life. However, each parent must maintain a relationship free of drugs and ensure the child’s best interests.

The family drug court refers to both the parent with drug use issues and the one with no substance abuse issues. Even when one of the parents has no involvement with drug use, they will be required to show up for the hearings and fully participate in the proceedings. The main goal of this program is to ensure that the parents build a healthy co-parenting strategy.

When a case is taken to the family drug court, an assessment will be scheduled for the parent with drug issues. The assessment helps determine the suitable duration and intensity of the program. For example, a track one program lasts up to one year and consists of four phases, while track two is shorter and often depends on the treatment and recovery process. Both track one and two programs involve discounted drug testing, counseling, and constant court appearances.

After the testing phase of the program ends, both the testing and non-testing parents will be required to attend orientation. If you are successful in the family drug court, the court could adjust your parenting time. However, the modification will depend on participation and success in the program. The input of both parents is necessary for the assessment, and the judicial officer will report your progress to the judge presiding over the custody case.

  • You qualify for family drug court under the following circumstances:

  • You have a drug possession or use conviction.

  • You are not involved in a methadone treatment program.

  • You do not have a history of violent behavior or the use of dangerous weapons.

  • You have not more than one felony conviction.

Juvenile Drug Court

In Arizona, the Juvenile Drug Court is a coordination approach aimed at treating minors who have a history of moderate to severe drug abuse issues. Juvenile drug courts are built in partnership with the drug treatment community and the juvenile justice system. The overall goal of the drug court is to ensure that minors between fourteen and seventeen years develop new behavioral processes which reinforce acceptable behavior. The expected outcome of placing minors in juvenile drug court is reducing drug and substance abuse. However, along with implementing social changes, the family system and the minor's natural environment must change.

Additionally, the program helps improve family functions and school performance. A juvenile must undergo the four phases of participation before graduating from the program. The juvenile drug program lasts between thirty to sixty weeks based on the minor’s compliance with the requirements of each stage.

All four phases of juvenile drug court consist of drug abuse treatment and psychological education. Other program elements include regular urinalysis, mandatory enrollment in an education program, and seeking employment for age-appropriate youths. In addition, the juvenile court programs help increase community exposure to drug and substance abuse by focusing on positive life choices and life.

  • A juvenile with substance abuse problems must meet the following criteria:

  • The juvenile must either have a pending adjudication or be an adjudicated delinquent. 

  • The juvenile must be able to process the information provided in juvenile drug court effectively. 

  • The minor must be between the ages of fourteen and seventeen with a history of moderate or serious substance use. 

  • The child does not have a past or current history of arrest for severe substance abuse or a sex-related crime.

  • The parents of the juvenile must fully participate in the treatment program as directed by the court. 

  • The minor family must submit to the relevant screening and agree to all the requirements of the program.

Drug Court for Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Arizona is a serious offense. A violation of Arizona DUI laws is a class one misdemeanor but has dire consequences in case of a conviction. The DWI court program is a special court program that works similarly to the drug court. Participation in a DUI drug court helps address the underlying causes of drug and substance abuse. The main aim of the DUI court is to incorporate mandatory counseling and treatment as a part of the sentencing for DUI.

Often drug courts for DWI help reduce recidivism and enhance public safety. In turn, completing the program will help reduce the defendant’s chances of repeating the behavior. The drug court for DUI provides various incentives in this program, including:

  • Elimination of illegal and destructive behavior.

  • Reductions or setting aside the legal penalties associated with DUI criminal convictions.

  • Clinical treatment for alcohol and substance abuse.

  • Incentives and support to return to work, school and be a productive member of society.

A conviction for a first DWI offense in Arizona attracts a minimum of ten days in jail. However, when you complete a program in DUI drug court, you will only spend no more than twenty-four hours in jail. If you face charges for a second offense, completion of the program will attract a thirty-day jail sentence as opposed to 90days for defendants convicted in criminal court. If you face an arrest and charges for DUI in Arizona, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

How does the Drug Court Differ From Early Disposition Court?

Drug court is an alternative sentencing scheme for individuals facing drug charges in Arizona. Defendants who face accusations for non-violent drug offenses and have no criminal history may be eligible for this disposition. However, drug court should not be confused with Early Disposition Court. The Early Disposition Court is one of the alternatives of criminal justice in Arizona and is reserved for individuals facing a low level of drug crimes. The EDC combines several case proceedings. Therefore, these cases are resolved within thirty to forty-five days.

The EDC was designed to help reduce the caseload in regular court and speed up the resolution. An eligible case for EDC will be flagged down during the initial court appearance. If you choose to consider a plea bargain before your case is taken to the EDC, the EDC will be scheduled within ten days. An early disposition court hearing combines:

  • Preliminary Hearing

  • Arraignment

  • Plea

  • Sentencing Hearing

Also, the early disposition helps eliminate the jury indictment to determine whether there was a probable cause. Instead of a judge, the Superior Court commission is responsible for hearing the EDC case. However, you will still have a right to legal representation during the hearing. At this type of hearing, you will be given a glimpse of the evidence, often the police report on your case. You will then have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty to the alleged crimes. If you choose to plead not guilty, your case will be taken out or early disposition and back to a municipal or superior court.

If you accept a plea deal, your case will go to sentencing, where you will be required to complete a drug treatment program. Most cases that are eligible for early disposition are non-violent drug offices. However, the case must involve possession of an amount of drug below the definition of simple possession. EDC can resolve cases that involve heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and prescription drugs.

The Early Disposition Court helps move minor drug cases from the criminal justice system like the Arizona drug court. However, since defendants do not have access to most of the evidence in the Disposition Court, the cases are unchanged by defendants. Lack of evidence prevents the defense attorney from determining the strength of the prosecutor’s case.

Find a Phoenix Criminal Lawyer Near Me

Facing an arrest and charges for a drug crime can be devastating. The consequences accompanying a conviction for these offenses in Arizona may be serious and life-changing. Fortunately, a drug court is an alternative sentencing scheme for individuals facing a conviction for a non-violent drug offense. The drug court aims at both rehabilitation and behavior change for the defendants. However, not all defendants may be eligible for this program.

If you face charges for a drug-related offense and believe that you are eligible for Arizona drug court, it would be wise to consult with a criminal defense attorney. As part of the negotiation with the prosecutor, your attorney could seek to have your case transferred to drug court.

When a drug-related crime is taken to drug court, your charges may be dismissed or reduced, which ensures that you face fewer penalties for your crimes. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we will review your case and offer the legal insight you need for your case proceedings. Call us today at 602-551-8092 to discuss the details of your case.

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