Drug and Alcohol Issues and the Law: How Referral to Treatment Works

When a criminal offense is deemed to be related to a drug or alcohol problem, there are a number of programs across Australia that can assist with treatment as a part of the sentencing process. Successful participation in these programs can often result in a more lenient sentence, and it's hoped that the participants will avoid further criminal offenses and will enjoy a better quality of life. Are you or someone you know facing criminal charges as the result of a drug or alcohol problem? These diversionary programs might be of benefit. So what is involved in the program? And who can participate?

Qualifying Candidates

A qualifying candidate for the program will have been charged with an offense related to drugs or alcohol, but this is not the same as a drugs charge per se. Someone who is charged with dealing drugs but who does not have a substance abuse problem will not be accepted into such a program. The offenses might be directly resulting from a drug or alcohol problem, such as a repeated drunk driver who causes property or bodily harm, or a person who commits theft or fraud in order to fund their substance abuse. The offenses might also be indirect and can pertain to any type of crime committed by an individual who has a tangible problem relating to drug and/or alcohol addiction.

Enquire with the criminal lawyers who are acting on your behalf. They will be able to tell you if such a program is available in your area and whether or not you're eligible. These diversion programs are widespread across Australia but are not yet nationwide. As an example, the program is only available in Queensland via the Magistrate's Court in Maroochydore and Redcliffe.

Eligibility Factors

The eligibility factors vary from state to state, but you will generally need to be eligible for bail, enter into the program voluntarily, and not charged with sexual violence or other types of violent crime. It's at the magistrate's discretion as to whether you will be referred to one of these diversionary programs, and it can be up to your lawyer to put forward a case as to how you will benefit from such a program. Repeated previous offenses pertaining to drug and alcohol issues might count against you.

The Program

The details of the program also vary from state to state and generally require intensive rehabilitation. This might require you to reside in a rehabilitation facility for a predetermined period of time, or to attend drug counselling and any detoxification therapy that is decided upon by the magistrate.

The Consequences of Non-Compliance

Non-compliance can have serious consequences. The idea of the program is to keep offenders out of the prison system, but acceptance into the program does not necessarily mean that you have avoided jail altogether. Your caseworker will report any non-compliance to the magistrate. As your full participation in the program was a key factor in avoiding jail, the magistrate might decide to impose a penalty for non-compliance, and yes, this can include a prison sentence.

For more information, contact Russo Lawyers or a similar firm.