It is recognized that those who commit drug crimes often benefit more from rehabilitation rather than simple incarceration. For this reason, the Virginia court system has drug treatment courts that, depending on the circumstances, may be an alternative to traditional criminal courts. According to the state, the recidivism and re-arrest rates of those who complete drug court programs are around 50 percent less than the rates of recidivism or re-arrest rates for those whose drug cases went through the traditional trial process.
In a drug court, a multidisciplinary team will work together to help the individual stay sober. This team may consist of a judge, commonwealth attorney, treatment professionals and probation officers. The person who committed the drug crime will be monitored and will participate in a standard treatment program. The person will undergo frequent testing to ensure they are sober and will be frequently monitored by their probation officer. Finally, if the person relapses, they will be penalized, but the relapse will be considered part of the recovery process and thus the person will not be criminally charged.
Courts have a legitimate interest in ensuring that the outcome of a criminal case both “fits the crime” and that the outcome of the case also protects the safety of the public. Having drug addicts go through the cycle of committing a drug crime, being penalized in traditional courts, relapsing and thus continuing to commit drug crimes generally does not meet these goals. Drug treatment courts, on the other hand, may be a means to meet these goals.
Whether a person’s case can be tried in a drug court depends on the facts of a person’s case. Thus, this post cannot guarantee any specific outcome. Those who want more information on drug courts in Virginia will want to seek the guidance of a criminal defense professional.