Many people think of drug related crimes as issues that are only faced by major cities. However, the reality is that we see drug related crimes all over the United States, including North Carolina, in the smallest rural towns and the biggest of cities. North Carolina especially has an issue with widespread heroin use, enough to consider this to be an epidemic with nearly 900 overdose deaths between 2010 and 2015. However, the legal response to drug crimes is often not an effective deterrent. In some cases, it does nothing more than to ineffectively punish those who cannot improve their situations without treatment. In other cases, it is simply a drastic overreaction that results in overcrowding in jails and prisons and is not effective at all when it comes to actually curbing drug use in North Carolina.
The positive thing here is that many North Carolina law enforcement agencies are starting to realize that the most common methods of deterring criminal drug use are in fact ineffective, and they are starting to turn to new and better methods. For example, people who are facing criminal charges for low level drug crimes can be referred to programs that will help them to change the direction of their lives, rather than going to jail or prison. The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is one such option that was developed in 2011 in Seattle. This allows individuals who are facing low level drug charges or first time drug charges to seek treatment and services within the community to help them to turn their lives around at an early stage.
While this is not a North Carolina program, it does show that there are better ways to address drug related crimes than incarcerating those who have committed them, especially when they may desperately need help to overcome addictions and make better life decisions. These programs are much more likely to change things, including preventing overdoses, than the traditional method of simply locking people up for a period of time, overfilling our jails and prisons, and doing nothing to curb, treat, or address addiction itself.
What Options Are Available for Drug Crimes in North Carolina?
Drug treatment courts are a common new age approach to addressing addiction when people are arrested for drug related crimes. These courts are found in many different states, and there are 23 counties in North Carolina that offer drug treatment in place of incarceration. In order to be considered for drug treatment court, you will have to meet certain criteria which your North Carolina criminal defense attorney can assist you with establishing.
The criteria that you must meet for drug treatment court in NC include the following:
- You must volunteer for the drug treatment program. Nobody can force you.
- You must have an addiction to a chemical substance/illegal drug.
- You must be eligible for intermediate/community punishment.
- You must not be classified as a violent offender.
- You must not be classified as a repeat felon.
- You must not be classified as a drug dealer.
Depending on the county and the relevant drug treatment court, there may also be other criteria that you have to meet. Consult with the criminal defense attorneys at Remington & Dixon Law Firm to learn more about the requirements in your county.
What is the Objective of North Carolina Drug Treatment Court?
The objective of North Carolina drug treatment court is to treat the addiction and assist offenders with overcoming the addiction and the life circumstances that lead them to this unhappy circumstance of criminal drug charges in NC. There are General Education Development opportunities available in addition to 12 step treatment programs and other vocational, literacy, and rehabilitation classes. There are even anger management classes and parenting classes available to those who can benefit from such intervention.
These drug treatment programs typically take one to two years to complete and require that you report in court twice each month. This is to follow your progress and ensure that you are in fact making progress. You will be subject to drug testing during this time as well. If you are not making progress, then you may end up facing time in jail anyway.
Contact a North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney
When you’re facing criminal charges for a drug related crime, you may think that all is lost, that you are destined to spend time in jail, and perhaps even that there is no hope for your future. It is important to recognize that you are not alone in this, and there are options available to you that can significantly improve your future and get you on the right path without ruining your life.
Contact a dedicated North Carolina criminal defense attorney to learn more about the options available to you and how to seek the best case scenario after being charged with a drug related crime. The attorneys at the Remington & Dixon Law Firm are here to help. Contact us today to learn more.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.