In Florida, a drug crime conviction may result in serious penalties such as lengthy jail or probation terms, hefty fines, and the loss of driving privileges. Additionally, you may suffer other long-term impacts of having a conviction on your criminal record such as difficulty finding employment or housing. However, if you are facing a non-violent drug charge, there may be alternative sentencing options available that can help you avoid a conviction. In Sarasota, one of those options is the drug court program.

If you are facing drug charges in the Sarasota area, an experienced Sarasota drug lawyer can fight for you and help make sure that your rights are protected. Erika Valcarcel of Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. has years of experience in criminal cases both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney and can be an effective advocate if you’re facing a drug charge. She can also help you determine if the Sarasota drug court is an option for you and help you navigate the process of becoming a participant.

Drug Court Eligibility

Under Florida statute, there are several requirements to be eligible to voluntarily participate in drug court as a first-time offender. These requirements are:

  • The person must be charged with a nonviolent felony.
  • The person must have a substance abuse problem or be charged with a second or third-degree offense for purchase or possession of a controlled substance, prostitution, tampering with evidence, solicitation for purchasing a controlled substance, or obtaining a prescription by fraud.
  • The person must not have been charged with a violent crime, including murder, robbery, or sexual battery.
  • The person must not have a prior felony conviction.

If a person meets the criteria above, the individual, the prosecutor, or the court may move for admission into drug court. However, if the individual rejected a previous offer for admission to a pretrial substance abuse education and treatment program at any time before trial, the court or the state attorney may deny admission into drug court for the current charge. Additionally, if the prosecutor believes that the person was dealing or selling drugs, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether dealing or selling was likely and whether to admit the defendant into drug court.

Drug Court Requirements

Sarasota’s drug court program has specific requirements and typically lasts for a year and has four phases that consist of a combination of judicial supervision and substance abuse treatment. Upon admission, a person is assigned a primary counselor who will make recommendations to the drug court regarding the person’s progress. The primary counselor provides a schedule of activities, requirements, individual treatment sessions, and facilitates participation in substance abuse counseling groups. Additionally, the drug court program incorporates random drug testing. Participants are called on random days to report for testing and provide urine samples. Failure to report for testing is considered a positive drug test.

The program requires participants to be employed, be in school, or a combination of both. Participants must also attend 12-step program meetings and case management meetings. Those in the program must also make required restitution payments, attend drug court sessions as required by the court, and complete specific assignments such as daily journaling and other writing projects.

Contact a Drug Crime Defense Attorney in Sarasota

Being convicted of a drug crime can impact the rest of your life, even if the offense is simple possession or use. If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, Erika Valcarcel is an experienced Sarasota criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the complex criminal justice system and fight for your rights. Sarasota’s drug court may be a viable option in your case, and she can help you request for admission into the drug court program, as well as help you take the necessary steps to successfully complete the program and avoid a conviction.

Contact us today at (941) 363-7900 for an initial consultation on your case and how we can help you with an effective defense.

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