Drug charges are not uncommon among California's youths today. Despite their commonality, minor drug crimes are punished much in the same way adult drug crimes are. Because of this, many minors who have drug convictions start their adult lives with a criminal record. Fortunately, there are options certain youths may have to prevent a criminal record from holding them back from a successful adulthood. Special court programs have been implemented to help address the problem of minor criminal drug activity in a more collaborative and rehabilitative and less punitive way. There are special drug court programs for adults that focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment as well. Juvenile drug court programs take the same approach as adult drug court programs do; they pair intensive court intervention with close community supervision to reduce recidivism and help defendants maintain a drug-free lifestyle. The drug court programs are typically several months in length and, if successfully completed, allow the defendant to avoid a juvenile hall detention sentence or a criminal record. Those that do successfully complete the program will have their charges dismissed and their case closed. Those that do not complete the program may face a conviction and sentencing.
While juvenile drug court programs are a great alternative to criminal conviction, they are selective. These programs are primarily in place to help minors who have a dependency on drugs stay clean and sober, rather than help one-time offenders avoid a conviction. In this respect, these programs are not for every minor drug offender. The basic components of many drug court programs include frequent drug testing, frequent court appearances, and counseling, both as an individual and as a family. In fact, there is heavy involvement from the family, as the courts see family involvement as an indicator of success. Participants will be expected to complete homework tasks related to their treatment and may also be required to attend drug or alcohol abuse support groups. The program requirements are significant, but are nevertheless often more favorable in the face of a criminal conviction.
These programs are considered collaborative because a team of individuals become involved in the each minor's case. The courts, probation officers, counselors, and health and human services all become involved. To be eligible to participate in one of these programs, the offender must be younger than 18 and being charged with a drug or alcohol offense. Program specific requirements may vary from court to court, but a willingness to successfully complete the program and stay sober will be considered in the referral. It is sometimes helpful to have an attorney assist you with the process of applying for one of these programs, as an attorney will know how to demonstrate the fitness of any given candidate to the court. Defendants who have committed violent offenses, sexual offenses, or who have an affiliation with a gang may not be eligible for these programs. Defendants must be first referred to the program by the trial court, after the initial stages of the juvenile delinquency process have been completed. The drug court will evaluate the defendant to determine if they are fit for the program. Those eligible may be admitted into the program. Those ineligible for the program may face conviction.
If you or a loved one is facing drug charges, take action and speak with an experienced California criminal defense attorney today. Drug charges are very serious and can affect many areas of a youth's life now and going forward. For example, a minor's drug charge can result in a driver's license suspension and reduced financial aid opportunities. Because of these consequences, youth drug charges are often worth fighting because there may be alternatives to the punitive approach. An experienced attorney will be able to advise you on your options for dealing with the charge and may be able to help you avoid a conviction. Participation in a juvenile drug court program may be an option for you, but if it isn't, a skilled attorney may be able to facilitate a favorable outcome in your case.
Are you or a loved one facing drug charges and have some questions? Criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens knows drug crime defense and will fight for your rights. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Mr. Martens has handled thousands of cases and has taken over 50 to trial. Attorney Christopher Martens will not be afraid to take your case all the way to trial to defend your rights. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide expert DUI defense counsel. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.