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Drug courts in New Jersey

The New Jersey judicial system provides that certain drug crimes may be prosecuted through the state's drug courts as opposed to the regular criminal court system. Cases sent to drug courts are focused on rehabilitation and treatment of an individual who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, and the offenses eligible are those that are determined to be due to such addictions. These courts specifically accept nonviolent drug offense cases.

The drug court approach is collaborative, involving a team of treatment professionals, probation officers, attorneys, substance abuse evaluators and court personnel. The focus of the team is to aid the person in rehabilitation and recovery by combining supervision, encouragement, authority and support. The program necessitates frequent court appearances, treatment involvement, regular testing and intensive supervision.

If a person violates his or her court-ordered treatment directives, the team can impose therapeutic sanctions designed to help get the person back on track. If he or she continually violates or drops out of the program, his or her case will then be returned to the regular court system for continued criminal prosecution for the underlying offense.

Many times, a person who is facing a drug charge may get more help through the rehabilitative approach of the drug courts rather than the punishment focus of the regular criminal courts. Drug and alcohol addiction sometimes leads people into involvement with the criminal justice system even if they otherwise would not have been. When a person has been charged with a drug crime, he or she may wish to ask his or her criminal defense attorney about the possibility of moving the case to the drug court system. If a person successfully completes the program, he or she can avoid the potential punishment involved with criminal court prosecution while having the opportunity to recover from a drug or alcohol addiction.

Source: New Jersey Courts, "Drug Courts", December 08, 2014

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