Pretrial Diversion and Drug Court
One of the worst feelings is knowing that you’ve made a terrible mistake that could impact the rest of your life. If you have been arrested for DUI, possession of drugs, or another non-violent crime in Alabama, a pretrial diversion program or drug court may be for you if you meet certain criteria. The criminal defense lawyers at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson LLP, can thoroughly explain your options and help pave the way for your admission into one of these valuable programs.
Our nation’s “war on drugs” and continuing campaign to squash impaired driving has created some harsh penalties that lock up and penalize non-violent offenders. While Alabama treats drug crimes and DUI as serious offenses, they have also taken steps to help first-time offenders change direction with rehabilitation-focused programs like pretrial diversion and drug court. Other first-time offenders and even some with “light” criminal records may be given unique opportunities by the courts if they meet the requirements.
Alabama’s Pretrial Diversion Program
If you’ve been arrested for a criminal offense in Alabama, you probably recognize that this single event can have a devastating impact on your future. A record of conviction can affect your reputation, ability to get a job, and efforts to find a place to live. The state of Alabama gives some one-time offenders a way out.
Also called “pretrial intervention,” this diversion program is an opportunity for an offender to enter a voluntary program that will allow your charges to be eventually dismissed and expunged. When you agree to participate in a pretrial diversion program, you provide a written confession to the prosecutor. Should you fail out of the program, the confession will be used against you to ensure a conviction, so it’s vital that you complete the program once you begin. Upon successful completion of the pretrial diversion program, your charges will be dismissed, and your arrest record will be cleared.
Who is Eligible For Pretrial Diversion in Alabama?
Because failing to meet the requirements of a pretrial program can have serious consequences, it’s essential that participants understand the risks before making an application. However, the benefits of avoiding a criminal conviction can’t be ignored. To be eligible for Alabama’s pretrial diversion program, you must:
- Be a first-time offender
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Agree to admit guilt in writing
- Agree to all of the conditions of the pretrial program, which may include counseling
- Not be charged with any other offenses involving the sale of drugs, burglary or other charges excluded in the Pre-trial Diversion law
- Agree in writing to pay all expenses associated with the program including investigative expenses, court costs, and attorney’s fees
What Are Drug Courts in Alabama?
Alabama’s drug courts are specific programs that were created to address the high incidences of drug and alcohol use crimes in the state. These programs focus on rehabilitation through a system that uses evaluation, screening, and education. More than 30 Alabama counties use a drug court program, which is an alternative to prosecution for many drug and alcohol-related offenses.
The district attorney in each county determines the criteria for their drug court, but most of these programs are similar. Individuals who choose the drug court option will enter a plea agreement which indicates they will be found guilty of their crime and face severe consequences should they fail to successfully complete the program. Provided you successfully complete the drug court program, your charges will be dismissed. After a period of time, you can apply for expungement of your records.
Who Qualifies for an Alabama Drug Court?
While drug court is the best option for anyone who wants to avoid a scar on their record, it’s only a good choice if you are willing to commit to the requirements of the program. Your Alabama criminal defense lawyer can not only explain your options, but they will also help determine your eligibility for this program and prepare the necessary paperwork for an application. In short, you may be eligible for an Alabama drug court program if:
- You are a first-time offender charged with certain alcohol or narcotic offenses, or
- You can show that drugs and alcohol played a major role in a non-violent crime.
- You agree to terms of the program that includes frequent drug testing and counseling.
- You agree to remain employed or in school throughout the program.
You will not be eligible for Alabama’s drug court program if:
- Your charges are for the distribution, sale, trafficking, or manufacture of narcotics
- You have pending or past charges for the distribution, sale, or manufacture of drugs
- You have been convicted in the past of a violent felony or any felony involving a firearm
- You are a registered sex offender or have been charged with felony sex offenses
Fighting Non-Violent Criminal Charges in Alabama
Rather than being placed in county jail or prison for a non-violent crime, Alabama’s pretrial diversion and drug court programs offer individuals the opportunity to avoid a conviction and choose a different path. Both programs require that participants fully commit to their completion or face near certain conviction.
Being admitted into a pretrial diversion program or drug court isn’t automatic or always a simple matter. Not only do you need to show that you meet the criteria for these programs, but you also need to convince both the prosecutor and judge that you are a viable candidate. Your best chance of being accepted to one of these programs and keeping your record clean is by using the services of a skilled Alabama criminal defense attorney.
At Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce & Thompson LLP, we have over 50 years experience representing clients accused of drug and DUI charges in Alabama. Our knowledgeable legal team will help you submit the correct paperwork to the courts so that you maximize your chances of acceptance to one of these programs. Contact us today at (334) 821-3892 or online to schedule a no-obligation consultation regarding your case.