Tennessee offers drug offenders an option that is not available in most states. This option, commonly known as “drug court,” gives drug offenders who have drug abuse issues the option of avoiding a jail sentence. Formally known as Recovery Court, drug court gives drug offenders who are facing charges of non-violent drug offences the chance to enter a substance abuse program instead of going to jail. Recovery Courts are special courts set up to handle cases of drug offenders through drug testing, treatment, and sanctions, as well as incentives, rather than with jail time. The expectations of participants are high, but the program gives participants a chance to come out of the program drug-free and without a criminal drug conviction.
It’s important to understand that there is no guarantee that anyone gets into the drug court program, and the court has complete discretion as to who to let in. For this reason, if you would like a chance to avoid a criminal conviction by going through drug court, it’s critical that you retain an attorney to represent your rights. Even something as simple as the judge not liking your demeanor in court could keep you out of the program and leave you with a completely avoidable criminal conviction on your record. Fortunately, however, an attorney can guide you through the process and maximize your chances of getting into drug court. To schedule a free case evaluation with a Knoxville drug offense attorney, call Barnes Law today at 865-805-5703 or send us an email through our online contact form.
A Drug Offense Conviction Can Affect Your Life for Years
If you are facing a drug charge, you need to do everything you possibly can to avoid a conviction. To understand why, it’s important to understand that the consequences of a drug offense conviction can go far beyond those ordered by the court, and they can last for much, much longer. If you have drug conviction on your record, that information is available to the general public as well as government agencies who make decisions about your rights or privileges that could have a substantial impact on your rights. In this way, a drug conviction could affect you long after your court-imposed sentence has come to a close. Some of the specific areas in which a drug conviction could have an impact include the following:
- Employment – Most employers conduct background checks on applicants, and a drug conviction is almost certainly going to appear in even the most superficial of searches. Employers are often hesitant to hire anyone that has a history of drug use, and you may actually be completely disqualified from certain positions if you have a drug conviction on your record. Also, don’t make the mistake of thinking you are safe if you have a good job already – because Tennessee is at-will employment state, your employer could let you go because a drug conviction – or even an arrest.
- Professional Licensure – If you are planning on going into a regulated profession like law, medicine, nursing, accounting, or engineering, a drug conviction on your record could frustrate your ability to obtain a professional license. In addition, as is the case with employment, a drug conviction could affect a professional license you already have.
- Housing – Landlords have an interest in preventing illegal activity at their properties, and often conduct background checks on prospective tenants as a result. As result, if you have a drug conviction on your record, it may make it difficult to rent the apartment that you want.
- Education – Schools are starting to inquire about applicants’ criminal histories, and a drug conviction may not make you an attractive candidate for admission. Furthermore, most colleges and universities have codes of conduct that prohibit students from using illegal drugs or otherwise engaging in illegal activity, and a drug conviction could result in your school imposing significant sanctions. These sanctions could include probation, the loss of a financial aid package or scholarship, suspension, or even dismissal from the institutional altogether.
Tennessee Drug Court Eligibility
To be eligible for “drug court” in the Knoxville area, you must be:
- An adult convicted in Davidson County
- A nonviolent felony offender charged with certain felonies
- Willing to participate in the Recovery Court program
There also are conditions that could render you ineligible, including:
- If you have already been convicted of a violent offense
- You carried, possessed, or used a firearm or dangerous weapon during the crime for which you were arrested
- The crime with which you were charged involved the death of or significant injury any person, or the use of force against another person
- Have one or more felony convictions involving the use of force against another person
- You refuse to cooperate with the admission screening procedures for the program
If you are eligible for the program, you will be required to undergo a treatment program that is intended you put drug use behind you. If you are able to complete the program, though, you can not only avoid jail time but you also can find a drug-free life, as a significant part of the program is rehabilitation. In fact, it has been found that the program:
- Reduces drug use among participants through frequent drug testing
- Results in fewer drug crimes by people participating in the program
- Reduces tax-payer costs by cutting jail time for program participants
- Gives program participants intensive supervision and monitoring
- Gives program participants alternatives to lifestyles involving drugs by giving them supervision, treatment, education, and counseling.
If You Have Been Arrested on Drug-Related Charges in the Knoxville Area, You Should Consult with Criminal Defense Attorney John Barnes at Barnes Law If you have been arrested on drug charges, you have options to avoid having a drug-charge conviction on your record. Tennessee offers options a program that can keep you out of jail. To find out whether you can enter such a program, contact Barnes Law.