In many misdemeanor and even felony drug cases, jail or prison time is not an appropriate sentence. Even most judges around the country agree that alternative sentencing provides more benefit to everyone involved rather than traditional incarceration. We believe that we would be more effectively representing our clients who have been accused of drug crimes when we give them options and the help they need to become better people. These options, not jail, help reduce the likelihood of a relapse when it comes to drug and alcohol cases. The criminal defense attorney often works closely with the substance abuse counselor to ensure that the client not only has a successful outcome in his or her drug case, but also in his or her personal life.
There are several alternative forms of punishment that can be explored in drug cases. Here are some examples of alternative sentencing.
Drug treatment courts, as they are called in Maryland, function as a partnership between the criminal justice system and drug treatment facilities. Its goal is to break the cycle of drug abuse and prevent recidivism or relapses. Whether or not an offender can get into drug court depends on the person’s “risk level,” the extent of his or her substance abuse problem and criminal history. A drug court participant will face sanctions for violations. Such sanctions may include increased random drug testing, community service, essay writing, imposition of curfew, courtroom/jury box detention, electronic monitoring or house arrest. Repeated violations could result in termination from the program or a return to jail or prison.
Drug rehabilitation programs
You may be sentenced to spend a certain amount of time in a court-approved drug rehabilitation center. You will be under probation during this time and will be required to submit to regular drug screening tests throughout your probation period. Your rehabilitation may also involve living in a sober living house where you will commit to staying sober throughout your stay there. You will also be ordered to participate in drug rehabilitation and counseling programs.
What this means is that you will be ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device that will notify law enforcement personnel or your probation officer if you have drifted away from your specified restrictions. With electronic monitoring, you will be able to go about your business such as work or attending school. But you will have restrictions relating to when to return home and what other activities you may participate in.
This is a means of alternative sentencing where you will be allowed to go to your place of employment and do your job. But you will be required to return to a court-authorized facility such as a jail at night time or immediately after work. Such an arrangement will help you keep your job and continue to earn a living while you serve time.