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Alternative sentencing may be an option for drug offenses

In the not so distant past, drug laws were designed solely to punish offenders who had broken the law. The laws ignored the fact that addiction was driving the actions of most offenders. The result was jails and prisons packed with low-level, non-violent convicts. Few people received treatment to help address their underlying addiction issues.

Fortunately, this long-standing approach to drug crimes is slowly starting to change. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your charges, you could qualify for alternative sentencing rather than going directly to jail.

Drug courts and diversion programs adopt a holistic approach

Drug treatment courts serve counties throughout the state of New York. These courts are more concerned with rehabilitation than punishment. As such, many courts will sentence an offender to a diversion program.

A core component of diversion programs is that there is a strong focus on treating addiction issues and providing people with the tools to combat their addictions. Community service is often an additional requirement for people in diversion programs. It’s important to keep in mind that following the rules of a diversion is not optional. You could still find yourself facing a jail sentence if you fail to stick with the program.

Who’s eligible for alternative sentencing?

Whether you have the option of enrolling in a diversion program is usually up to the prosecutor. Your defense attorney may be able to negotiate an agreement on your behalf. You should keep in mind that enrolling in a diversion program doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a clean criminal record. You may still have to plead guilty to the underlying charge. You should take the time to discuss all available options with a skilled legal professional.