Can a drug offense lead to drug court instead of a trial?

On Behalf of | May 6, 2024 | Drug Crimes |

Research into drug use and addiction has changed how many people view drug users and how the state responds to controlled substance offenses. Yet, drug offenses still carry significant penalties in Illinois regardless of changing social attitudes about drug use.

People get arrested every day for possession of substances that they should not have due to the illegality of the substance or the individual’s lack of a prescription. Someone accused of a nonviolent drug offense might face charges that could lead to incarceration and fines, as well as a criminal record.

Peoria and other jurisdictions across Illinois do offer drug court proceedings as an alternative to a traditional trial. Who can potentially qualify for drug court or problem-solving court?

Non-violent, high-risk defendants may qualify

As a general rule, drug court proceedings are not an option in cases where the offense has a victim. Typically, only non-violent offenses related to substance abuse issues may qualify a defendant for drug court proceedings. Defendants who have not gone through the drug courts before and who are potentially at risk of reoffending due to a substance abuse disorder are among those with the best chances of having their cases heard in drug court.

Typically, defendants have to agree to plead guilty to undergo drug court proceedings. They have to achieve sobriety, which they must prove by undergoing drug and alcohol testing regularly. The process typically also requires mandatory treatment, frequent meetings with professionals and careful compliance with all restrictions imposed by a judge.

Some people refer to the drug courts as “intensive probation on steroids.” Defendants who choose this route must submit to weekly meetings with probation officers. They may need to attend cognitive behavioral therapy or moral recognition therapy. They may also need to attend counseling sessions with recovery specialists and mental health professionals.

Should someone successfully complete drug court proceedings, they do not need to serve a criminal sentence despite admitting that they committed an offense. They are also potentially in a good position to avoid reoffending, given that they have undergone treatment for their substance abuse challenges.

Learning about drug court can be helpful for someone accused of an Illinois drug crime. Drug court proceedings are one of the alternatives available to those who are eligible and are hoping to avoid a trial.