Drug crimes are among the most harshly prosecuted crimes in the state. Even some nonviolent crimes such as possession of marijuana or other controlled substance could lead to lengthy prison sentences due to mandatory minimum sentencing requirements. Though there is an ongoing debate regarding the effectiveness of these sentences, they remain realistic possibilities for anyone charged with drug crimes in West Palm Beach.
Mandatory minimum sentencing takes away judges’ abilities to use discretion when determining the appropriate length of a sentence based on the facts surrounding the case. As a result, offenders who committed specific drug crimes carry out equal sentences of several years in prison. Such sentencing is particularly harsh for first-time offenders, many of whom are caught possessing, selling, or trafficking drugs with no previous criminal record. Often, these same offenders may be drug abusers who could benefit from drug treatment rather than harsh punishment. This is where drug court comes into play.
West Palm Beach Adult Drug Court
Criminal charges can severely disrupt a person’s way of life. Drug charges are especially severe, as offenders may face strict mandatory minimum sentencing if convicted. A nonviolent offender without an existing criminal record should consult with a determined drug court attorney to discuss his or her options.
Drug court is an intervention program that began in South Florida to address the increasing recidivism rates for felony drug offenders in the late 80s and early 90s. The program successfully lowered the rearrest rate and rate of convictions, improved substance abuse treatment outcomes, and reunited families while producing measurable cost benefits.
Today, drug court remains an alternative to prison or jail time for nonviolent offenders who abuse substances. They aim to break the cycle of criminal behavior by diverting nonviolent offenders from the criminal justice system. By increasing the supervision of offenders, providing access to public resources, and expediting case processing, it has been shown that drug courts provide a significant benefit to offenders and the community.
Eligible defendants enter drug court as a condition of probation. It is a voluntary program that requires regular court appearances. Most who successfully complete the program will typically have their cases dismissed completely.
Benefits of Drug Court
Drug court can allow offenders to avoid a permanent criminal record and the stress and cost of a criminal trial. Instead of jail time, offenders may receive counseling, education, medical treatment, and psychological evaluation and treatment. Drug court typically reduces the likelihood that individuals will reoffend, and individuals who complete the program may be eligible to have their criminal charges sealed.
If you face charges for a nonviolent drug crime, it’s important to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced drug attorney in West Palm Beach to explore your options. Attorney Brian Gabriel holds over 25 years of experience defending those accused of drug offenses throughout South Florida. Call 561-622-5575 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.