Even relatively minor drug charges can have a damaging effect on a person's life, as our society takes drug-related transgressions very seriously. However, the justice system in New Hampshire and other states is coming to an increasing realization that, when drugs are involved, there is often another side to the problem.
Many people who commit drug-related crimes suffer from addiction. Clearly, throwing them in jail just like any other criminal will punish them for a particular crime but will not cure its root cause, which is the addiction. Thus, they emerge from prison with the same or even a higher likelihood of committing further offenses. Drug courts today offer an alternative to traditional legal penalties for some types of drug offenders.
Who is eligible
While each county's drug court system has its own rules, they all tend to follow a common pattern. Typically, eligible offenders must lack prior or current violent offenses. They must also undergo a screening process to determine the likelihood that the drug court program will aid their rehabilitation. Screening often includes assessment of criminal history, medical history and mental health issues, as well as the person's willingness to comply with program requirements.
How programs work
The drug court program itself generally consists of a period of mandatory treatment following an appropriate plan. During this time, offenders remain on probation and must report for scheduled check-ins with the court. They can expect close monitoring for compliance with treatment, including frequent drug testing.
Many programs aim to assess any additional underlying causes of addiction. For example, many people become addicted to opiates because of a real medical issue such as chronic pain. Others fall into addiction as a result of attempting to self-medicate mental illnesses such as depression or PTSD. In such cases, treating the addiction effectively means treating its causes as well.
If you face drug charges in New Hampshire, turning to an experienced defense attorney can help you achieve the best possible outcome. Your attorney can advise you as to whether drug court makes sense for you and advocate for your rights.