Learning About Criminal Law Proceedings

Adult Child A First-Time Criminal Offender & Drug Addict? Pretrial Diversion May Be An Option

If your adult son or daughter is addicted to drugs and has been arrested for theft as a first-time offender, it's obvious that you are concerned about their future. They may be facing jail time as a drug addict, which obviously isn't a good scenario. Fortunately, a pretrial diversion may be an option, which is an alternative to traditional court proceedings and is offered in at least 44 states. Of course, since your adult child is in jail, he or she may ask you for help in locating and hiring an attorney for them. Here's what you need to know.

Pretrial Diversion as an Option

Alcohol and drugs seem to go hand-in-hand with criminal activity. In fact, it is estimated that 80% of the people incarcerated in the United States abuse alcohol or drugs. While the majority of these cases tend to result in plea bargains, first-time, non-violent offenders may be offered what is called a pretrial diversion. This typically involves counseling, behavioral modification, and substance abuse treatment, all of which can help your adult child recover from their addiction before the sentencing phase of the court proceedings.

This reason courts use pretrial diversion is quite simple—it's believed that early rehabilitative services may deter future criminal behavior. It's common knowledge that a drug addiction can fuel a life of criminal activity, particularly crimes such as burglary, robbery, and theft, so the individual is able to feed their addiction. Obviously, you don't want your adult child to be on a downward spiral of drug addiction and criminal activity, which is likely to happen without this type of intervention.

What to Expect During Diversion

Your loved one will be given a drug test at the very beginning and at regular (and possibly unscheduled) intervals through the term of the diversion. The length of the diversion will likely depend on many factors, including the type of offense, the drug of choice, and the extent of the addiction. The people who will make these determinations may include the judge and the probation officer in the county of residence.

Diversion may involve being placed in an inpatient substance abuse treatment facility if outpatient sessions do not seem appropriate. If outpatient intervention is called for, your son or daughter may need to attend various sessions throughout each week until the program is complete, which essentially means until they are clean. You and other immediate family members may be asked to attend sessions as well, especially if group therapy is required.

It's important to understand that the diversion might be costly. As with all court-involved matters, there will be fees that will need to be paid as part of the requirements. The court fees may or may not include the substance abuse treatment costs. If not, the treatment center will also need to be paid for their services.

Why Successful Completion Is Important

Obviously, the most important reason for a successful diversion is so your son or daughter can be clean from their addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Successful completion of the program is crucial so court proceedings can continue with your son or daughter in a healthier frame of mind. With the program completed and drug tests showing that no drugs have been used, the judge may be more willing to be lenient during the sentencing phase of their criminal offense.

Depending on state laws and the specifics of the case, the judge may or may not require any jail time and may allow for the records to be expunged in the future. If the diversion fails because they don't attend their requirement sessions or because they fail a drug test, your son or daughter may face jail time while fighting their addiction. Talk to a criminal law attorney at a firm like O'Brien and Dekker Attorneys at Law for more information.