Drug Court Could Avoid Jail Time


Avoiding jail time is the primary objective in a drug case where the state has solid evidence that will result in a conviction. Tennessee criminal defense attorneys often cannot change the outcome of a trial. However, evaluating the evidence being used can be an effective method of negotiating a charge reduction or convincing the prosecuting attorney to take a closer look at the case. Thanks to the Tennessee Drug Court Treatment Act of 2003, an alternative to jail time can sometimes now be negotiated when the defendant is not necessarily involved significantly in organized criminal drug activity.

Tennessee Drug Treatment Act of 2003

Many state governments began taking a closer look at how drug cases were handled in the early 2000s. The focus was shifted to drug treatment for first offenders as opposed to jail when it could be used effectively. Not only did the program have a goal of reducing the number of people occupying jail beds, it allowed for those who were chemically dependent and nonviolent to reevaluate their life through a program designed for recovery. The legislative action also set a platform for drug crime attorneys to negotiate more effective plea agreements for their clients.

How the system works

Tennessee has progressed to establish 82 “recovery courts” throughout the state that allow qualified defendants to access information through the various programs that also include mental health evaluation and treatment. They operate under the direction of a state advisory committee. Defendants do not necessarily have a guarantee that they can be accepted, but the deferred alternative adjudication can serve as an effective replacement for jail time after the ordered program is completed.

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