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Every year, millions are affected by drug and alcohol
abuse around the world. In the US alone, around 20 million individuals above
the age of 12 have reported using drugs within the past month according to data
released from the latest NSDUH (National Survey on Drug Use and health).
Additionally, the NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism
and Drug Dependence) explains that this number represents 8% of the entire
American population. Unfortunately, just about 2 million of those affected by
drug and substance abuse issues receive the treatment required to enable them
to overcome their addiction.
Legislation requiring jail time for drug possession, use,
abuse, and related criminal activity has been in existence since the 70s. Since
then, the body of knowledge around drug and alcohol addiction - as well as
about how chemical dependency affects the body - has improved. With this new
knowledge, legislators have been changing their views on the best ways to
reduce the high incidence of crimes related to drug use.
If you are already addicted to drugs/alcohol, you
probably already know that it can be difficult to hold onto a regular job,
maintain your social life, and continue providing the support and care your
family requires as you battle your addictive behavior. As addiction takes your
life over, you might even start losing those things that matter most to you.
Fortunately, if you find yourself facing criminal charges
on account of your substance abuse and addiction, you might be able to opt for
rehab in place of jail time. Read on to find out more:
With the rise in drug-related crimes, prisons and jails
are quickly becoming over-populated. In case you were arrested for committing
non-violent crimes related to drug use, and you face criminal charges due to
these crimes, there is a good chance that the court might agree to time spent
undergoing rehabilitation instead of going to jail.
Since drug and alcohol addiction have now been classified
as veritable ailments, the legal system is increasingly leaning towards rehab
instead of incarceration. As a direct result, you might be able to request the
court to get you admitted into an addiction rehab program instead of compelling
you to go to jail.
In the United States, every state has its own laws and
accompanying penalties for different drug crimes. To this end, the
rehabilitation option might only be available in those states where the laws
come with addiction and dependence options.
The states that allow these options might also carry
different requirements on the process through which you can take advantage of
the possibility of going to rehab instead of attending jail.
For instance, some states require the addict to enroll
into a rehab program before they can release you from the jail sentence ordered
by the court. Other systems might have existing relationships with local rehab
centers. In such a case, the court might be able to make the referral on your
If you get arrested due to your abuse of alcohol and
drugs, you can opt for rehab in place of jail. To take advantage of this
option, talk to your legal team about alternative rehab sentencing. The lawyers
might be better placed to broach the issue with the judge, or the judge might
suggest the alternative treatment plan.
However, to get court-ordered rehabilitation instead of
going to jail, you might be required to meet some qualifications. Depending on
the state, these requirements include but are not limited to:
After you have successfully completed the alternative
sentencing rehabilitation program (as the option is commonly referred to), the
court will expunge the record of the crime. For instance, if you were caught
driving under the influence and you finish your treatment, the DUI might be
removed from your public record.
That said, alternative rehabilitation will save you from
future problems because the court is highly likely to wipe your slate clean.
This means that financial institutions, employers, and anyone else who performs
a criminal background check will not be able to find any signs of the crime you
committed during your addiction.
The rehab option may also present you with a fresh chance
to learn all the skills you require to continue fighting your addiction while
staying away from alcohol, drugs, and any potential triggers in the future.
Since the option of going to rehab in place of jail
exists, it is highly likely that you are worried whether you qualify for such a
program. In most cases, the court might check whether you are a first-time
offender because it is believed that such individuals are less likely to
continue committing crimes in the future.
The court might also look at your alcoholism and/or drug
addiction as conditions beyond your control. As such, if you are also found to
be in good standing within the local community, the judge is more likely to
qualify you for the program.
By committing you to rehab in place of jail, the court
will expect that you will eventually get sober, a state in which you will be
less likely to break the law in the future.
Some of the requirements put in place to check your
eligibility for court-ordered rehab include:
The court system has a mechanism in place to ensure that
the option of addiction rehabilitation works out for you instead of spending
time in jail. In fact, some state drug courts tend to order extensive
monitoring for all individuals sentenced to rehab to make sure that you
complete the goals of the program.
As part of the program for these drug courts, you might
be required to complete specific measures. Further, the court will subject you
to proper monitoring, and check that you meet the eligibility requirements
After the court sentences you to treatment, you must
complete every step of the mandated rehabilitation program - and without
incident - before the sentence can be expunged from your record.
Some of the measures the court is likely to require that
you take include:
If you complete the program outlined by the drug court,
you might be exempted from pleading guilty to the crime you committed. As such,
the court might not convict you for the crime, or it might reduce your prison
or jail sentence, or even empower you to skip the sentence.
In most cases, a court ordered rehab works for those whom
the judge (as well as the prosecution) believes would benefit from undergoing
rehabilitation instead of serving jail time.
At the court ordered rehab program, you will be forced
into mandatory rehabilitation from your addiction by a judge as part of the
court ruling. This might typically be in place of serving out a jail term - a
punishment that might not match the nature or substance of the crime you
This system of sentencing works well because it is now
commonly believed that drug and alcohol abuse tend to impair judgment, and lead
some abusers to committed relatively minor crimes.
In other instances, your addiction might be the force
driving your crime. For example, your arrest might have been due to stealing
and partaking in illegal activity in a bit to get more money to feed your
If a court orders you to attend drug treatment, it is
highly likely that the judge and the prosecution consider you to be a regular
person who has fallen prey to the ravages of drug and substance abuse and
However, for court-ordered rehabilitation to work, the
crime you committed must have been non-violent. It must also be unrelated to
sexual assaults such as rape.
The primary goal of such a program as far as legal
precedents are concerned is that you complete the rehabilitation and come out
sober. By so doing, you might be less likely to commit even greater crimes in
the future. As such, the desire for the success of court-ordered rehab tends to
According to recent studies, incarcerating an addict for
non-violent crimes related to their drug abuse only provides a temporary option
for keeping them from committing similar (or more serious) crimes during their
sentence. However, there is no telling what would happen when the person in
serving jail time.
For instance, if you are first time offender and you
receive a 5-year jail sentence because you were found in possession of
marijuana, you might get incarcerated. During the period you are in jail, you
will no doubt be compelled to live with a large population of individuals who
Most of your fellow inmates are highly likely to have
committed crimes that were worse than the one you were charged for. The longer
you spend time with such a group, the more likely it is that you will develop
other criminal tendencies.
If you get an early release, say within 3 years, the
court might place a condition that you stay out of trouble and report regularly
to your parole officer. If you spent so much time with criminals, you might
have a difficult time functioning as a honorable and productive member of the
community on your own.
When you add in your addiction problem, there are good
chances that you might end up looking for and using drugs/alcohol to cope with
your renewed life outside jail. Here, the likelihood that you will commit
another crime is high.
The US Department of Justice reports that individuals
suffering from an addiction they cannot control are highly likely to commit as
many as sixty-three crimes in a single year. To reduce this number of crimes,
courts might choose to refer you to a drug treatment facility instead of
committing you to jail.
Further, the Justice Research and Statistics Association
reports that the effects of rehab versus jail tend to bring out positive
outcomes in the areas outlined below:
Several programs have been put in place to help addicts
beat their condition even as they avoid part or their entire jail sentence.
Depending on the kind of crime you committed, specific drug intervention
programs might be selected on your behalf.
In almost every case, you will be responsible for paying
for the treatment services you receive instead of attending jail. This
flexibility means that you should choose the rehab facility in such a way that
your treatment will not become a tedious and tiring affair.
However, although the expenses tend to pile up, the
alternative is even worse. As such, you are more likely to come out of the
court-ordered rehab facility stronger, wiser, and soberer than you have ever
been in your entire life.
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