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Arrested on a drug charge? It could be an unforeseen blessing

Believe it or not, arrest can be the best thing that happens to someone with a drug addiction. This is why:

1. An arrest can be a wake-up call to both the addict and the addict's family. Addicts not only often fool family members, but they frequently fool themselves into believing that their addiction isn't serious. An arrest makes it hard to ignore and continue to hide an addiction.

2. A first arrest is often treated more compassionately and leniently by both police and prosecutors than a subsequent arrest would be. Addicts who don't have a long history with the law can often negotiate their way into a treatment program in lieu of a criminal conviction or jail time.

3. A significant number of people with addictions also suffer from some form of mental disorder. Many have turned to drugs as a means of self-medicating their condition. Arrest and movement into the justice system can, if handled correctly, get these individuals the mental health treatment that they need, which can ultimately lead to the end of their addiction.

However, there are some unique legal issues faced by people who are diverted into treatment programs instead of a conviction or as part of a deferred-sentencing program. Defendants need to be conscious of the fact that they are still in a somewhat precarious legal position.

That means any defendant who accepts placement in a diversion program that offers detoxification, counseling, rehabilitation and other methods of kicking the addiction needs to keep in mind the following cautions:

  • Do not discuss your ongoing legal situation with your counselor in drug rehab. The counselor is generally responsible to the court and what you say could end up being used against you.
  • Consider asking your attorney if the prosecutor will sign a memorandum of understanding that will protect your rights. If you're afraid that your treatment won't be effective unless you reveal potentially incriminating information, that can prevent a prosecutor from using that information against you.

For more information about what you should know or do if you've been charged with a drug offense, talk to an attorney today.

Source: National Institutes of Health, "7 Treatment Issues in Pretrial and Diversion Settings," accessed Aug. 03, 2017

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