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Article Summary

Can I Go To Rehab In Place Of Jail?

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:

Going To Rehab In Place Of Jail

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 behalf.

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:

  • The crime you committed was as an indirect or direct result of your use, abuse, and addiction to drugs/alcohol
  • The crime you committed was of a non-violent nature
  • The court system believes that you would benefit from alcohol and/or drug treatment
  • You have been found to qualify for probationary sentencing

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.

Who Is Eligible?

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 crime wasn't violent or sexual
  • The offense you committed was your first or second, and you have no prior history of sexual assault or violence
  • You can and are willing to comply with the treatment mandated by the court system
  • You display all the classic signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol addiction
  • You qualify for probation sentencing
  • You were arrested while intoxicated, high, or on a drug-related crime when you were committing the crime
  • You wish to plead guilty to the crime
  • Your disposition is such that you are likely to benefit from treatment for addiction
  • Your substance abuse, dependence, or addiction contributed to you committing the crime

How Does It Work?

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 outlined above.

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:

  • Complete drug screening, including random urine testing
  • Attendance at counseling and such support groups as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Meeting with probation officers if you were sentenced to probation
  • Reporting regularly to the court to show your progress within the rehab program
  • Receiving disciplinary measures or rewards from the court based on your failure or success in the mandated program

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.

Court Ordered Rehab

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 committed.

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 addiction.

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 addiction.

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 be high.

The Effects Of Incarceration

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 committed crimes.

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.

Effects Of Drug Rehab Versus 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:

  • 30% of those who underwent rehab received new jail sentencing in a year in comparison to 51% of those not receiving rehab
  • 42% of individuals undergoing rehab get convicted of crimes in comparison to 65% of those who are not enrolled in any rehabilitation program
  • 57% of those who receive rehabilitation get rearrested within a year in comparison to 75% of those who do not receive rehab

Drug Intervention Programs

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.

These include:

  • Accelerated Pretrial Rehabilitation Programs
  • Alcohol Education Programs
  • Drug Education & Community Service Programs

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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