Many New York residents may not realize that there are diversion programs for people facing drug charges. This means that instead of criminal charges, options include recognizing the challenges that come with addiction and tackling them. The Overdose Addiction and Recovery in the state aims to do that, by allowing people to get treatment without first pleading guilty to a crime that stays on their record, regardless of their efforts to turn their life around.
The program follows a pre-plea model. Participants can get help without copping to committing a crime. However, the program is voluntary-the defendants need to want to be a part of it. Many district attorneys then have wide discretion to work with judges to either knock down or dismiss charges if the participant completes the program.
People who have been charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, criminal trespass in the second or third degree and petty larceny may be able to use this program. However, people facing felony charges cannot enter the program. Additionally, if someone is already enrolled in the program, they can be offered leniency. Though hundreds have appeared in front of judges in the program and only a fraction have graduated from the program, it provides hope and help to those who need it, by focusing on saving lives.
Defendants who are facing immigration, housing or employment issues cannot take pleas and end up losing their houses, their legal status in the country and jobs as a result of criminal charges that do not take into account their addiction. They may not know that they have other options available to them, diversion programs that can allow them to get the treatment they deserve to get better. An experienced attorney can discuss one’s options with them and other drug charges defenses to ensure their rights are protected. This can help them take timely action to better their situation.