Will I Be Drug Tested in Court?

Drug Tested in CourtIf you are arrested and charged with a criminal offense in the State of Tennessee it can be a frightening and intimidating experience, particularly if it is the first time you have been through the process. All sorts of questions are likely running through your head, such as “What does the prosecutor need to show to convict me?” Or “What will happen to my career if I am convicted?” Of more immediate concern is the question “Will I be drug tested in court?” The answer to that question depends on the context.

Whether you have a full-blown drug addiction, are a casual user of “recreational” drugs, or you marijuana for medicinal purposes, if you submit to a drug test you will test positive. With this in mind you are justified in being concerned about the possibility of a drug test as a result of your status as a defendant in the court system.

There are essentially two different scenarios in which you could be drug tested in court or ordered to submit to a drug test while in court. The first is if you show up to court under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A judge always has the authority to question a defendant in front of him/her in court. If the judge notices signs of intoxication or signs that you appear to be under the influence of something, the judge can order you to submit to a drug or alcohol test right then and there. If the test comes back positive the judge could hold you in contempt of court, a result that could land you back in jail.

The more common scenario in which a drug test comes up in court is as a condition of probation or as part of a diversion program. If you are convicted of a criminal offense you could be placed on probation in addition to, or in lieu of, a period of incarceration. While on probation you must abide by all standard and special conditions of probation. Drug testing is often one of those conditions. While on probation the court will retain jurisdiction over you. If you violate your probation you will likely be ordered to appear before the court to discuss the alleged violation. If the violation relates to drug use, or if the judge believes that drug use is a factor in the violation, you could be ordered to submit to a drug test right then and there. The same basic concept applies to diversion programs. With most diversion programs you are given the opportunity to spend a short period of time under court supervision after which the charges against you will be dismissed. While under the court’s supervision you may be drug tested as part of the diversion agreement.

The bottom line is that once you become involved in the criminal justice system, either because you have a case pending or because you have already been convicted, a judge typically has the authority to order you to take a drug test if the judge has good cause. Testing positive can have nothing but negative ramifications.

If you have additional questions about drug testing in the criminal justice system, consult with the experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.


Stan Bennett