If you were recently arrested and charged with a drug-related criminal offense in the State of Tennessee, you are undoubtedly worried about the final outcome of your case. A conviction for a drug crime can not only result in a lengthy prison sentence, but can also have a profound and long-lasting negative impact on your family life and your career. If you have a substance abuse problem, entering into a rehabilitation program could certainly help you personally; however, will it help your case? A Murfreesboro drug attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby discusses how completing a rehab program may also prove beneficial to the ultimate outcome of your case.
What Are the Charges?
When considering the benefits of completing a rehabilitation program, you must first look to the nature of the charges against you. Did the State charge you with possession of a relatively small amount of a controlled substance or are you accused of transporting or selling drugs? This matters because, as a general rule, neither the prosecuting attorney nor the judge will be sympathetic to an addiction problem if you were transporting and/or selling large quantities of a controlled substance. On the other hand, they are sometimes sympathetic when an addiction caused a defendant to be in possession of a small quantity of drugs that were intended for your personal use. In that case, your successful completion of a rehab program can go a long way toward garnering leniency at sentencing and/or helping you to get accepted into a diversion program.
What Is a Diversion Program?
A diversion program is an alternative option for prosecutors and/or judges in lieu of convicting a defendant and sentencing him/her to jail or probation. The idea behind diversion is to identify defendants who may have made a one-time mistake, or who might be headed down the wrong path, and who might benefit from some court intervention and guidance instead of punishment. A defendant who was found to be in possession of a small quantity of drugs because he/she has a serious drug problem is an excellent example of why diversion programs exist. Although the U.S. criminal justice system is purportedly based on rehabilitation, not punishment, the reality is that a defendant who is convicted of a criminal offense will almost always receive very little in the way of rehabilitation efforts. A defendant who is accepted into a diversion program, on the other hand, may actually be rehabilitated if all goes well.
The Tennessee Pretrial Diversion Program
Tennessee Code 40-15-105 governs the pre-trial diversion program in Tennessee. If you qualify, you will enter into a “Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)” with the prosecuting attorney that agrees to the suspension of the prosecution of your case for a brief period of time, not to exceed two years.
During the time period agreed upon in the MOU you must pay a monthly fee and agree to be supervised, much like probation. You may also be required to agree to additional terms, such as completion of a class, attend treatment for substance abuse, pay restitution, or submit to random drug tests. If you are already in a rehab program, your attorney can use that fact when trying to convince the prosecuting attorney that you are an ideal candidate for the diversion program.
If you successfully complete the terms of the diversion program, your case will be dismissed. For an additional fee, you may petition to have the entire record of your arrest expunged. On the other hand, if you fail to complete the terms of the program, your case picks back up where it left off.
Leniency at Sentencing
If you do not qualify for diversion, or you do not wish to participate in the program, your successful completion of a rehabilitation program can still be used as a mitigating factor at your sentencing if you are convicted of the charges against you. Be sure, however, that you talk to your defense attorney before choosing a rehabilitation program to ensure that it is the right program for you and your situation.
Contact a Murfreesboro Drug Attorney
If you have been charged with a drug-related criminal offense in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro drug attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.