Despite changing social attitudes and new laws in other states, Virginia still has a relatively strict stance on many drug offenses. Individuals accused of even simple possession crimes could face incarceration, financial penalties and other consequences for violating state controlled substances statutes.
A drug conviction can lead to numerous criminal consequences and a record that can limit someone’s future opportunities indefinitely. Those accused of breaking Virginia drug laws often prefer to avoid a conviction if at all possible. For some people, requesting adjudication in Virginia’s adult drug treatment courts could be a reasonable reaction to a recent drug arrest.
What are the drug treatment courts?
The Virginia adult drug treatment courts are an alternative option made available to certain defendants accused of non-violent crimes. Those who can show that criminal activity may directly relate to a substance abuse disorder might be eligible for drug court proceedings instead of a traditional trial.
Drug court involves intense court oversight combined with treatment and regular drug screening for defendants. Those who successfully fulfill drug court requirements can avoid criminal penalties and having a criminal conviction on their records.
Unfortunately, not everyone accused of a drug offense in Virginia qualifies. Even if the charge is a nonviolent one, someone’s prior criminal record could make them ineligible for drug court proceedings. Anyone convicted of a violent offense within the last 10 years typically does not qualify for drug treatment court proceedings.
Additionally, defendants hoping to access the drug treatment courts instead of defending themselves at a standard criminal trial need evidence supporting their claim that a substance abuse issue contributed to their criminal activity and requires medical intervention. Those with pre-existing substance abuse medical records may have an easier time qualifying for drug court than those who have avoided diagnosis and treatment.
However, some people can receive diagnosis of a substance abuse disorder after their arrest and still qualify for adjudication in the drug treatment courts. Other defendants may have alternative means of avoiding a criminal record and a conviction, such as challenging or reframing the evidence presented by the prosecutor.
Reviewing the state’s case with an attorney can help someone better evaluate their defense options when accused of violating Virginia drug laws.