Drug Treatment Court in Wake County, NC

July 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Criminal Law

Charged with a drug crime in Raleigh?… It might be time for Drug Treatment Court

As a Raleigh criminal defense lawyer I see first hand how drug charges can ruin someone’s life. Felony drug charges and misdemeanor drug charges can both devastate your educational options, your career and your social and family life. Having the right Raleigh drug lawyer representing you can make all the difference. A good criminal defense lawyer will take you through the criminal process step by step and explain and guide you toward your best options. One of the more intensive options is called Drug Treatment Court or Drug Court. In Wake County, NC the program is run as a post-conviction option for nonviolent, chemically dependent offenders who truly can benefit intensive treatment and monitoring.

The North Carolina Drug Treatment Court (Article 62 of the NCGS) is an intense court ordered program for non-violent, repeat drug offenders. The program was established in the mid 90’s by the NC legislator’s passage of the “North Carolina Drug Treatment Court Act of 1995.” This drug program is utilized in Raleigh through the Wake County Court system. The Drug Treatment Court program can vary from county to county both in who qualifies and who is required by the participant.

The Drug Treatment Court or “Drug Court” in the Wake County court system offers court ordered treatment plans for chemically dependent adult and juvenile offenders. The basic idea of this program is to get the Judge, District Attorney, Probation Officer, Defense Lawyer, Drug Court Case Manager / Team and the chemically addicted Offender to come together in an effort to give the offender the resources to address their treatment needs. The program holds the defendant rigorously accountable for their behavior while in the program.

The program is meant to last at least one year. It is typical for the Drug Treatment Court team to require frequent court reviews, out-patient treatment, clinical treatment, attendance in support programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and random drug test. Additionally, there can be requirements that the offender must be in school, employed or be required to take additional training/schooling or treatment.

Drug Treatment Court in Wake County, North Carolina

In Wake County the participants begin the drug treatment court program under intensive probation supervision monitored by specially-trained probation officers assigned to the drug treatment court team. As the participants progress through the program, their probation supervision can decrease.

As a criminal defense lawyer in Raleigh, I see how much of a burden drug use and related issues put on our court system. Studies continually show that alcohol and drug use (including related crimes) makes up the majority of the criminal cases in North Carolina. Programs like the North Carolina Drug Court in Wake County have shown they can be successful for the offender and society as a whole. The program has changed and improved since being created in 1995. While programs like this always seem to be on the chopping block when budget cuts are needed, it is important to realize that this program actually saves the state tax payers money. It is cheaper to rehabilitate a nonviolent drug offender in this program’s settings than the huge cost of house someone in jail for the same period.

What is Drug Treatment Court? What is Drug Court?

In 2003, the General Assembly defined Drug Treatment Courts as an Intermediate Sanction under the Structured Sentencing law. Intermediate-level offenders sentenced to Drug Treatment Court are required, as a condition of probation, to comply with program rules, report as required, and to participate in court supervision, drug screening or testing, and drug or alcohol treatment programs.

Per § 7A 791, The General Assembly recognizes that a critical need exists in this State for judicial programs that will reduce the incidence of alcohol and other drug abuse or dependence and crimes, including the offense of driving while impaired, delinquent acts, and child abuse and neglect committed as a result of alcohol and other drug abuse or dependence, and child abuse and neglect where alcohol and other drug abuse or dependence are significant factors in the child abuse and neglect. It is the intent of the General Assembly by this Article to create a program to facilitate the creation of local drug treatment court programs and driving while impaired (DWI) treatment court programs.

What are the stated goals of the Drug Treatment Court as stated in § 7A 792.

1. To reduce alcoholism and other drug dependencies among adult and juvenile offenders and defendants and among respondents in juvenile petitions for abuse, neglect, or both;
2. To reduce criminal and delinquent recidivism and the incidence of child abuse and neglect;
3. To reduce the alcohol-related and other drug-related court workload;
4. To increase the personal, familial, and societal accountability of adult and juvenile offenders and defendants and respondents in juvenile petitions for abuse, neglect, or both; and
5. To promote effective interaction and use of resources among criminal and juvenile justice personnel, child protective services personnel, and community agencies.

Do we really need Drug Treatment Court?

Yes! A study of our court system in 2009 established that more than half of all the criminal cases before the court involve alcohol or drug addicted people. The study showed that in 2008 we had 202,942 drug-related charges in the North Carolina court system and 72,867 DWI charges. These do not include approximately one million additional criminal cases such as assault, breaking and entering, and larceny that were committed under the influence of alcohol and drugs or committed to support the offender’s addiction.

Who Manages the Different Drug Treatment Courts in Each NC County?

Each judicial district choosing to establish a drug treatment court shall form a local drug treatment court management committee, which shall be comprised to assure representation appropriate to the type or types of drug treatment court operations to be conducted in the district and shall consist of persons appointed by the senior resident superior court judge with the concurrence of the chief district court judge and the district attorney for that district, chosen from the following list:
(1) A judge of the superior court;
(2) A judge of the district court;
(3) A district attorney or assistant district attorney;
(4) A public defender or assistant public defender in judicial districts served by a public defender;
(5) An attorney representing a county department of social services within the district;
(6) A representative of the guardian ad litem;
(7) A member of the private criminal defense bar;
(8) A member of the private bar who represents respondents in department of social services juvenile matters;
(9) A clerk of superior court;
(10) The trial court administrator in judicial districts served by a trial court administrator;
(11) The director or member of the child welfare services division of a county department of social services within the district;
(12) The chief juvenile court counselor for the district;
(13) A probation officer;
(14) A local law enforcement officer;
(15) A representative of the local school administrative unit;
(16) A representative of the local community college;
(17) A representative of the treatment providers;
(18) A representative of the area mental health program;
(19) Any local drug treatment coordinator; and
(20) Any other persons selected by the local management committee.
The local drug treatment court management committee shall develop local guidelines and procedures, not inconsistent with the State guidelines, that are necessary for the operation and evaluation of the local drug treatment court.

Why are Drug Treatment programs important?

1. They help chemically addicted offenders rehabilitate themselves into drug and crime free productive members of society.
2. The program saves North Carolina tax payers money by rehabilitating these offenders out of the jail and correctional system. Also, the offender is required by statute to help pay for the cost § 7A 800. (Each defendant, offender, or respondent in a juvenile petition for abuse, neglect, or both, who receives treatment under a local drug treatment court program shall contribute to the cost of the alcohol and other drug abuse or dependency treatment received in the drug treatment court program, based upon guidelines developed by the local drug treatment court management committee.)

How does someone successfully complete Drug Court?

In order to successfully complete Drug Treatment Court, the usual requirements include: offender must have successfully completed all phases of clinical treatment, received clean urine screens during the prior months, be employed/school, be paying regularly towards their legal obligations (child-support, taxes and court costs), have no new criminal behavior while in the program, fulfill all other program requirements and be nominated for graduation by the drug treatment court team.

I have been arrested and charged with a drug offense in Wake County, what do I do now? How will this drug charge affect my job or school?

Drug charges are serious and can carry long active jail sentences or probation. The consequence of drug charges on your employment and your schooling can be very serious too. It is important to contact a criminal defense lawyer to review your drug case and explain your option and possible solutions. Eric Gurney is a drug lawyer in Raleigh, NC and handles Misdemeanor and Felony drug charges in Wake County, NC. The Gurney Law Firm handles drug charges and getting drug charges expunged off your criminal record. It is important that your criminal defense lawyer reviews your criminal charges and determines if you are eligible to have your charges expunged after your case is disposed.

Can I have drug charges expunged off my criminal record in North Carolina? What about drug charges in Raleigh and drug charges in Wake County?

Yes. In certain circumstances you can have drug charges expunged off your criminal record. Eligibility for expungement of drug charges should be assessed by your criminal defense lawyer. If you have been charged with a drug crime in Wake County, contact The Gurney Law Firm for criminal defense and expungement of your criminal record. Getting drug charges and/or marijuana charges expunged off your criminal record can make a huge difference in someone’s life that is applying for school, college and jobs. Contact The Gurney Law Firm to talk to a Raleigh expungment lawyer.

What are the most common drug charges? Can I be eligible for Drug Treatment Court with these charges? What about DWIs in NC?

You may be eligible for Drug Treatment Court for most types of drug charges, but it will need to be reviewed by your criminal defense attorney and worked out with the District Attorney’s Office. Each county can vary the criteria for who qualifies for the program based on prior criminal history and the current charges. Some counties may allow for DWI offenders to get treatment through this program.

Also remember that Drug Treatment Court is not a “Right.” No one is entitled for this treatment program and that’s why it is important to work with a criminal defense attorney who can fight for your eligibility.

Some of the most common types of drug charges in North Carolina are:

§ 20 138.1 Impaired driving DWI
Possession of Marijuana / Sale of Delivery of Marijuana
Possession of Synthetic Cannabinoids / Sale of Delivery of Synthetic Cannabinoids
Possession of Cocaine / Sale of Delivery of Cocaine
Possession of Methamphetamine / Sale of Delivery of Methamphetamine
Possession of Amphetamine / Sale of Delivery of Amphetamine
Possession of MDPV / Sale of Delivery of MDPV
Possession of MDMA / MDA / Ecstasy / Sale of Delivery of MDMA / MDA / Ecstasy
Possession of Opium or Heroin / Sale of Delivery of Opium or Heroin
Possession of LSD / Sale of Delivery of LSD
Possession of Toxic fumes / Sale of Delivery of Toxic fumes
Trafficking in MDMA Ecstasy
Trafficking in MDA
Trafficking in Marijuana
Trafficking in Cocaine
Trafficking in Heroin
Counterfeit Controlled Substance Offenses
Drug Offenses involving Minors
Drug Related Continuing Criminal Enterprise Charges
Controlled Substance Offenses Involving Fraud, Misrepresentation, or Similar Activities
Maintaining a Dwelling or Vehicle for Use, Storage or Sale of a Controlled Substances
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Toxic Fume Offenses (Inhaling Toxic Fumes)

When you are charged with a Drug offense you should always consult with a criminal lawyer. They will be able to review your case and guide you to your best options. That can mean taking your case to trial or resolving in other ways. If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor drug offense, call The Gurney Law Firm at (919) 930-4027.