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What is drug court, and am I eligible?

For many North Dakota residents who have an addiction to drugs or alcohol, a conviction on drug possession or DUI charges are not enough to help the person deal with the underlying cause. If a person is shown to have a history of addiction, they may be eligible to participate in drug court.

Drug court is a treatment program that is often available to non-violent offenders who have legal problems stemming from a drug or substance addiction. This program works hand-in-hand with the regular court system; participants are required to attend regular court appearances so that the judge may be aware of the participant's progress, undergo routine drug testing, participate in counseling and attend 12-Step meetings. Participation in this voluntary program offers a number of advantages. Participants who graduate from the program often have their probation terminated early, and the treatment team may be able to provide education and referrals for vocational training.

Those who are interested in participating in a drug court treatment program must meet several criteria. First, those who are interested must have multiple prior misdemeanors or felony drug offenses. Those who have trouble with alcohol may qualify if they have at least three DUIs. Second, potential participants must demonstrate that they are willing to take responsibility for their actions. Those who are classified as violent offenders will not qualify for the program. Additionally, those who have previously participated in the program or who are being charged with drug manufacturing, intent to deliver or drug delivery are also ineligible.

Because all cases are unique, those who are facing another drug possession or DUI charge should seek legal advice from a criminal law attorney. If the person is eligible for drug court, the attorney may help their client enroll in the program and assist with their client's progress.

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