Being arrested and convicted of a drug crime in Georgia comes with serious penalties. Depending on the type and amount of drug, you may face jail or prison time on top of any other penalties.
One of the problems with this approach is that often people possessing or using drugs are addicted and sending them to jail or prison is not likely to aid in treating that addiction. If you find yourself in this situation, you might naturally prefer being ordered to go to rehabilitation instead of to jail. But what are your chances of that?
Convincing a prosecutor or judge to order you to attend rehabilitation instead of going to prison can be extremely challenging. There are currently a high number of people battling drug addiction in prisons for drug-related crimes. Many of these crimes are for non-violent offenses, such as drug possession.
Unfortunately, jail or prison sentences are more likely to keep people in the cycle of addiction. However, court-ordered rehabilitation or treatment programs exist to help people treat their addiction, get into recovery and move forward with their lives.
Georgia’s pre-trial diversion program and its requirements
Georgia has a pretrial diversion program that serves as an alternative to a criminal sentence. To qualify for this program, you must be a first-time offender with no previous arrests or convictions for a misdemeanor or felony offense.
However, sometimes exceptions are made. Pretrial diversion could be offered if you have arrests on your record but no convictions or were only convicted of minor traffic violations.
One final requirement is that you must not have already participated in any other programs and have no other pending criminal charges.
The pretrial diversion program generally involves attending counseling or taking classes designed to help you obtain sobriety and become a productive member of society.
If you successfully complete the pretrial diversion program, the judge signs a dismissal order and your drug charges are dismissed.
Helping you avoid becoming part of the system
Struggling with drug abuse and addiction increases your chance of ending up involved with the criminal justice system at some point facing drug charges. Once you are charged with a drug-related crime you become part of the system which is sometimes very hard to get out of.
Additionally, no matter what the ultimate penalties you receive are, having a criminal record is going to have a negative effect on many areas of your life. You may face trouble passing background checks, securing employment or renting a place to live. Some friends or family may now label you a drug addict and avoid or cut ties with you.
These are all reasons why it is important to mount the strongest possible criminal defense. There are several potential defenses available to drug charges and one or more could apply to your situation.
However, if it looks like a conviction is likely, it helps to have someone on your side to help negotiate the best possible outcome for you. A plea deal that includes attending the pretrial diversion program as part of its terms is a much better option than one that involves jail or prison time.