If you’ve been charged with a drug offence, and you have a history of drug use, you might want to consider the Drug Court Program. Participation in the program may even increase your chances of getting a more lenient penalty.
The Drug Court Program is a special court that’s based in Parramatta, Sydney and Toronto on the Central Coast. It aims to help people who have been affected by drug addiction to break the cycle and get on with their lives so that they don’t reoffend.
If you’re looking for a way to break your drug habits and stop your offending, the Drug Court is a fantastic program that will give you the support you need to get clean.
To participate in the Drug Court Program, you must be referred by the Local or District Court. You must also satisfy other criteria:
- You must live in the ‘catchment area’ – this includes most of Western Sydney, the Hills District and the Central Coast;
- You must be over the age of 18;
- You must currently be in court for an offence, and it must be likely that you will be sent to gaol;
- You must be willing to participate in the program;
- You must not be charged with a violent or sexual offence (such as robbery or sexual assault)
- You must not be suffering from a mental illness that could affect your ability to participate in the program.
Even if all the above criteria are satisfied, it can be competitive to get into the Drug Court Program as there are limited spots available. Names are randomly drawn out of a hat each week.
You can think of Drug Court as a form of rehabilitation – it aims to help you overcome your drug problems and get your life back on track.
The Program will require you to undergo a period of detoxification and assessment in a gaol, after which Justice Health might recommend that you live in a residential rehabilitation centre, live in court-approved accommodation, abstain from drug use, or go onto a methadone program.
The Court will also monitor you on a regular basis and may conduct random home visits to test you for drug use. You will be required to ‘check-in’ with the court each week so that they are updated on your progress. If it’s found that you’ve taken drugs during the week, you might have penalties imposed upon you, however if it’s shown that you’ve remained clean for the week, you may be rewarded for your progress.
The whole program takes about a year to complete, and you will move through three different ‘sections’ or phases – initiation and stabilitation, consolidation and re-integration.
Generally, the court will put off sentencing you for the offence until you’ve completed the Drug Court Program. Once you’ve finished it, they can take into account your involvement in the Drug Court Program, and in some cases they may even impose a lesser penalty or sentence if you’ve been doing well in the Program. This means that you might even avoid going to gaol if you’ve made efforts to engage in the program.