Drug Court Hits 20th Anniversary of Helping Defendants in Fort Lauderdale

Broward County Drug Court acknowledged more than 10,000 graduates over 20 years at a celebration recently, the Sun-Sentinel reported, marking a huge milestone for a very important program.

Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorneys believe drug court is a great alternative to by-the-book penalties and sentencing because it allows people to have a second chance in life. While drug court relies mostly on the defendant to want to get help after they are arrested on drug charges in Fort Lauderdale and throughout South Florida, an experienced attorney should be hired in order to help get them into the program.

Drug Court helps nonviolent people who buy or possess small amounts of drugs like cocaine or oxycodone.They must stay clean for a year and participate in intensive counseling, treatment, rehabilitation, acupuncture and random urine testing, the newspaper reported. Completing Drug Court enables them to avoid a conviction and a prison term, or, if already convicted, successfully complete probation.

The county’s Drug Court, which started in July 1991, falls under the Broward Sheriff’s Office. It has three, three-month phases participants must complete. There are group counseling, drug tests, and whatever other measures the judge deems necessary.

Officials laud it as a cost saver, saying it costs taxpayers $954 per client for a year of Drug Court, compared with $24,000 to send someone to county jail. The court graduates about 1,000 people a year and the recidivism rate after two years is about 2 in 10.

While some people like it for the cost savings, we like it because it works and it helps people stay clean. This can be a great program for young offenders and people who may be getting into drugs for the first time. The program is designed to help keep people clean and steer them away from using drugs.

But getting into the program is no guarantee. There are standards for those who are allowed to participate and sometimes prosecutors want to seek harsh penalties of jail or prison time for people arrested on drug charges.

A Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney can be necessary to negotiate with the state and prove that the client deserves a chance to succeed in the program. And that needs to take place early on in the process. That’s why quickly consulting with an attorney is advantageous for someone facing these charges.

Drug court is the best way to avoid jail or prison, if the defendant is willing to work on their drug problem and get help. Consulting with an attorney to determine whether or not this is a fit for the client may be as important as getting the client into drug court. That’s because a failure in drug court could subject the defendant to the penalties — fines, fees, jail time, probation and other sanctions — they would face in the criminal justice system.

If you are arrested on drug charges in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in South Florida, contact Leifert & Leifert at 954-523-9600 or 561-988-8000 for a free consultation.

More Blog Entries:

31 Years On the Run Ends With 5-Year Prison Sentence After West Palm Beach Drug Arrest: June 10, 2011
Miami Cop Arrested by FBI on Drug Charge: June 8, 2011
Additional Resources:

Ceremony marks Broward Drug Court’s 20th anniversary, by Philippe Buteau, Sun Sentinel

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