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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Drug Crimes / Florida Drug Courts Can Help Defendants Get A Second Chance

Florida Drug Courts Can Help Defendants Get A Second Chance


Normally, when a person has to go to court, the experience is intimidating and adversarial, particularly if they are on trial for a criminal offense. However, Florida has played a major role in developing a new kind of court, designed to arrive at solutions in a slightly different way. Now under the larger umbrella of “problem-solving” courts, Florida’s drug courts can provide a second chance to some who have been accused of drug offenses.

What Are Drug Courts?

The first drug court in the nation was founded in Florida in 1989, in Miami-Dade County, as a pretrial diversion program (in other words, a potential avenue to avoid a trial). After drug courts, other types of problem-solving courts were established (for example, those dealing with veteran’s issues, child abuse, and juvenile crimes),  but it is the drug courts that generally see the most traffic. Palm Beach County does have an adult drug court, as well as a juvenile and a “dependency” drug court.

There are five major characteristics that exemplify a problem-solving court, but the general gist of them is that a problem-solving court is not adversarial. Drug courts in particular are committed to marrying treatment for substance abuse with establishing the consequences of any offenses that the participants may have committed. If a defendant participates in the program, they will be rewarded, while a failure to do so will have demonstrable consequences. Because of this, a criminal conviction can be avoided by many who agree to attend drug court – though not by all.

Am I Eligible?

There are specific criteria that a person (and their case) must meet in order for drug court to be a potential option for them, though they can differ between courts. A person must generally be able to demonstrate that they have a substance abuse disorder, and that it played a significant role in why they allegedly committed their offense. Palm Beach County’s drug court is somewhat unique in that it is open to people with past convictions – as long as those convictions are not otherwise disqualifying – while most are only for first-time offenders.

If you are eligible for pretrial diversion, and you comply with the rules of the program, completing Palm Beach County’s drug court will generally result in your pending charges being dropped – even if they are felonies. Most drug court programs are quite rigorous, requiring check-ins, treatment for substance abuse, and meetings with others going through the same process, but the rewards can be immeasurable.

Call A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney

While Florida takes drug crimes quite seriously, it is possible to get a second chance if you meet the criteria. A West Palm Beach drug offenses attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help you determine if drug court is an option for you, and to advise you on your rights and responsibilities through the process. Contact our office today at (561) 721-0552 to speak to an attorney.

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