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How Do Alabama Courts Treat First-Time Drug Offenders?

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Options for First-Time Offenders

If you have recently been charged with a non-violent crime, such as possession of drugs or driving while under the influence, you may have options. Some may worry that these charges could impact them for the rest of their life, and without interference, they certainly can.

If you aren’t a habitual offender, you almost always have options with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Most states have continued to harden their stance on drunk driving and drug offenses but have created systems to help minimal or first-time offenders seek a better path and avoid the charges following them for the rest of their lives.

Read on to learn more.

Pretrial Diversion Program

Several states have adopted a program that offenders can consider that may reduce or eliminate their charges should they be first-time offenders without aggravating circumstances.

These programs vary by name across states and counties but are typically referred to as a Pretrial Diversion or Intervention Program. The offender can admit to guilt, typically through a written confession to the prosecution, and enter into a court-approved program that addresses their charges.

It’s important to note that by hand-writing your confession, you are helping the prosecution to secure a conviction should you choose not to complete the program successfully, so it’s vital that you do so. If you aren’t contributing, following the schedule, or have failed the program, your confession will be used against you, and you will need to go to court for your original charges and accept your punishment.

Is Anyone Eligible for Pretrial Diversion Program in Alabama?

If you are a first-time offender, over the age of 18, and agree to your guilt in writing, you are generally eligible for the program. It’s important to note that not all charges will qualify. Only specific ones within the parameters of the program will suffice. Work with your criminal defense attorney to ensure that the charges you are facing are within the parameters, and have them help you process your application for the program.

You must also agree to pay any expenses associated with the program, such as course fees or other costs.

You must agree to all the parameters of the program as well. In some cases, this may mean that you need to undergo counseling related to the charges against you, such as drug treatment. Frequent random drug or alcohol testing may also apply.

Another requirement may be to remain in school or be gainfully employed throughout the program.

Lastly, you must avoid other charges in the program, such as drug charges, burglary, etc.

Remember that the rules for these programs may differ in each county and are based on the prosecution’s determinations for what you may need to adhere to based on your specific charges.

What Can Make You Ineligible for a Pretrial Diversion Program?

If you are a habitual offender, you are likely unable to partake in a Pretrial Diversion Program.

Furthermore, if your charges include anything related to the distribution, manufacturing, sale, or trafficking of drugs, you may be ineligible.

If you are a registered sex offender or have felony-level sex offenses on your record, you will likely be denied eligibility.

Similarly, if you have prior convictions of violent felony charges or felony charges regarding a firearm, you may not be eligible.

Adjudicated Withheld Program

Another option for offenders is the Adjudicated Withheld Program. While the programs are similar in requirements or eligibility, the rules for pleading guilty differ slightly.

With the above programs, you will need to provide a written statement of your guilt to the prosecution. In an adjudicated withheld program, you appear before a judge and plead guilty to the charges.

The judge will hear your plea, not accept it at that time, and instead refer you to an approved program. If you choose not to adhere to the program’s parameters, it’s an easy step for the judge to impose a sentence that they feel is just.

It’s important to note that a judge faced with an offender who was allowed to complete a program and didn’t do so may make the punishment for the charges more severe as a result.

What Are Aggravating Factors?

If you are a first-time offender but there are aggravating factors present, you may not be eligible for the pretrial diversion programs.

An aggravating factor can be a significant amount of drugs on you rather than a small one, indicating to the courts and prosecutors that you may have intent to sell.

The types of drugs that you are caught will also determine an aggravating factor present with your drug charges. For example, if you are caught with marijuana, you may be a good candidate for a program, but if you are found with heroin or meth, you may not qualify.

Work with your attorney to determine your eligibility and how to proceed. They can work for you to ensure your application is accurate and that you meet eligibility requirements for one of the available programs.

A Team You Can Trust

With being in business since 2009, our team has extensive experience in helping to advocate for our clients every day fiercely. No one wants a simple mistake to haunt them for the rest of their lives, affecting their careers, housing, or loan options.

We work to ensure our clients have the best options available and can enter into the negotiations with peace of mind, knowing that they have the best possible representation.

Contact our office at 205-881-5641 to schedule your consultation and learn how we can best assist you moving forward.

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