Drugs often play a major role in crimes across Florida. In order to feed their addictions, addicts often commit more crimes. The result is that court dockets are loaded with cases involving addicts whose motivation for committing more crime is the feeding of a habit that is hard to break. By removing drugs from the equation, crime levels might be reduced, court schedules could become more manageable, and the number of lives damaged or destroyed by drug and substance abuse would decline. Although this line of thinking may appear more idealistic than realistic, it is what lies behind the system of specialist drug courts that now operate across the country.
Florida leads the way
Florida is the pioneer of drug courts, having started the first one in Miami-Dade County in 1989. Now, Florida has more than 100 such courts and each judicial circuit in Florida has at least one drug court. The concept has been adopted across the country and more than 2,000 drug courts are in operation nationally. The rationale behind drug courts is to acknowledge that cases involving drugs have specific characteristics and require judges with specialized knowledge to craft outcomes that are appropriate for the alleged offender, the victim and wider society. In drug courts, judges have powers to send individuals for pre and post sentencing addiction treatment and other sanctions as alternatives to custodial sentences.
The drug court "carrot"
One the main advantages for a defendant in choosing drug court is that he might be able to have his charges completely dismissed upon his successful completion of the drug court program. Thus, in addition to meaningful treatment, drug court offers an attractive “carrot” to persuade anyone with a drug offense to enter the intensive outpatient program.
If you have been charged with a drug-related crime, the determination of whether your case will be heard in drug court or regular court depends on a number of factors, including the actual offense committed, your personal history and whether an alternative system to the traditional court system would be beneficial to you.
The attorneys at The Byrd Law Firm in Sarasota, Florida have extensive experience defending drug crime cases in traditional and drug courts. We have been successful in having charges dismissed for clients who have completed drug court processes.