New Jersey is unique in its utilization of drug courts. With drugs often being a catalyst for crime, these courts seek to attack the problem at its source, the addiction, often giving offenders a second chance at doing right through options like drug treatment and probation.
The first NJ drug courts started in 1996 in Camden and Essex Counties. Mercer, Passaic, and Union soon followed with their own in 1999. The successes of these courts led legislators to pass funding to create statewide drug courts in 2000.
These drug courts are targeted at nonviolent offenders who don’t have prior convictions for violent crime. If you are a first time offender and are charged with a drug offense, this could be you.
Specialized drug courts lead to specialized sanctions and programs. No longer are people who simply have a drug problem shuffled into the prison system where they receive little help. Now, those who qualify are given the opportunity to pay for their crime but also to get clean and stay drug free.
Under the Obama Administration, programs like the one in New Jersey could be expanded across the country. While many states have drug courts, only a few have one in every county.
These programs don’t only assist those caught up in the system but also work to relieve some pressure off the “system” as well. An addict that can stay clean is one far less likely to go down the path of crime. Because drugs often lead to other crimes (those intended to get money for drugs and those committed while under the influence), drug courts can, in theory, reduce crime and its effects on the community.
When facing criminal charges for the first time, it is scary to think of the possibility of doing time or being away from family and friends. It can be particularly frightening if you have a drug problem.
Call me today for a consultation on your case.