Every crime carries social stigma, but drug offenses can be particularly damaging for your future. Everyone from future employers and landlords to scholarship programs may refuse to work with those who have drug convictions that show up in a criminal background check.
While you shouldn’t brush off a possession charge as something minor, you also don’t need to panic or assume that your life is over just because you got arrested. For those whose recent drug offense directly relates to chemical dependence or addiction, the possibility exists for them to ask to go through the drug courts instead of the standard criminal justice court. Doing so could reduce the negative impact of the charges that those individuals face.
What are the Maryland drug courts?
As you can easily guess from the name, the drug courts are a specialty court system designed to specifically handle drug-related offenses with roots in addiction. The criminalization of drugs has done little to deter people from using them, but it has turned many otherwise upstanding Americans into criminals.
By allowing those with addiction issues to go through the drug courts, Maryland gives them a chance to learn from their mistakes and put the past behind them. The drug courts focus on allowing non-violent offenders an opportunity to reintegrate into society as non-offenders.
Provided that you complete treatment and all other requirements from the court, you may be able to not only go to rehab instead of jail but possibly avoid getting a criminal record at all.
What does adjudication in the drug court entail?
Demonstrating that you have an addiction is often the first step. Beyond that, you will likely need to complete treatment, possibly residential. That might mean that you live in a rehab facility for several months.
However, when the alternative is a criminal charge, even inpatient rehab is a better option. You may have to complete community service, goes to outpatient counseling, and do many of the same testing and reporting required of those on probation.
Anyone facing a drug charge, including those who hope to go through the drug courts, needs to be proactive in their response to pending charges rather than waiting to see what happens.