Drug offenders are punished severely in the Arkansas criminal court system. However, recognizing that many defendants in drug cases suffer from underlying mental disorders or addictions, Arkansas has created drug courts, modeled on similar ones across the United States.
A drug court program seeks to reduce the number of repeat drug offenders that appear in the Arkansas criminal justice system. It provides support for nonviolent offenders through a combination of accountability and treatment, affording them the opportunity to end their dependence on drugs and avoid prosecution.
There are currently 49 adult drug courts and 16 juvenile drug courts in Arkansas. Participants are individuals who are deemed to be at moderate to high risk of being repeat offenders. Ideally, such individuals are identified within 50 days of their arrest and diverted from the normal criminal court process. Participants are required to undergo frequent drug tests and to regularly attend substance abuse counseling. This could mean placement in a residential treatment facility or participation in a 12-step program.
The drug court process comprises five phases and lasts at least 12 months but can be up to 18 months. If you are accepted into a drug court, you must pass each phase before you can graduate into the next one. Participation is monitored by a team consisting of a judge, prosecutor, defense attorney and others, which meets regularly to review the drug offender’s performance. The participant must have a job or be in an educational or vocational training program.
If you don’t pass a particular phase, you can be removed from the drug court program and be put back into the criminal justice system. Also, a period of at least 90 continuous days of negative drug test results is required before a participant is eligible to graduate.
If you are arrested for a drug offense in Arkansas, you should contact an experienced Little Rock criminal defense attorney who can review the circumstances of your drug arrest and determine if you might be eligible for entry into a drug court program. As a condition, you cannot have a history of violence or a felony conviction for a violent crime, nor can you have a violent felony case pending against you. You also cannot be accepted if you have to register as a sex offender under Arkansas law.
James Law Firm represents clients in the Little Rock area and throughout Arkansas who have been accused of drug crimes. To learn about your rights and legal options, please call (501) 375-0900 or contact us online.