Court-ordered rehabilitation is alternative sentencing for persons who are being sentenced for drug crimes. When someone is ordered to counseling and rehabilitation rather than jail, it’s because a judge thinks the offender would benefit more from rehabilitation than incarceration.

Court-ordered drug or alcohol rehabilitation is frequently the sentence that is imposed on many first-time, non-violent drug offenders in most states, including Colorado. But what can happen if a convicted drug offender avoids or refuses to participate in court-ordered rehabilitation? Can a Denver drug crimes law firm help?

And what if you are the person who is – wrongly or rightly – arrested and charged with a drug crime in Colorado? What steps will you need to take?

WHAT DO DRUG COURT PROGRAMS TRY TO ACHIEVE?

Drug Courts for adult offenders are aimed at helping those offenders complete court-ordered drug treatment successfully with supervision, monitoring, incentives, and counseling. Drug Courts hold participants responsible and help them develop the skills for long-term sobriety.

group therapy in drug court

The concept of Drug Courts is about two decades old now, and the criminal justice researchers are telling us that Drug Courts work. Drug Courts seem to reduce crime and decrease drug abuse more effectively than any other current strategy available to the criminal justice system.

The first Drug Court for adults in Colorado was established in La Plata County in 2001. More than three thousand Drug Courts now operate in various jurisdictions across the United States.

WHO QUALIFIES FOR DRUG COURT? WHO DOESN’T?

If you’re accused of possessing a large quantity of drugs, or if you have extensive previous criminal convictions, you likely will not qualify for Drug Court, and you’ll be sentenced without Drug Court as a sentencing option if you are convicted of the drug charge by a criminal court.

In Denver, however, the District Attorney has the discretion to exclude an offender from Drug Court participation and may recommend individuals who otherwise would be excluded.

legal books and gavel

If you’re accepted for the Drug Court program, it is offered to you as part of a plea deal, and you must enter a guilty plea to the drug charge or to a reduced charge. Usually, a deferred sentence or a misdemeanor conviction is offered as the alternative to a felony conviction.

WHAT ARE THE THREE PHASES OF A COLORADO DRUG COURT PROGRAM?

If you accept the terms of the Drug Court program, you are sentenced to probation and ordered into the program, which takes place in three phases. Each phase lasts for at least ninety days, and additional penalties may be imposed on those who do not complete all three phases:

  • Phase One in a Colorado Drug Court program focuses on treatment, alcohol and drug monitoring, community service, weekly consultations with a probation officer, and bi-monthly appearances before a judge for a Drug Court review.
  • Phase Two reduces the number of meetings required with a probation officer and the number of court appearances that are required – provided that the offender has been compliant with all of the other conditions and terms of the Drug Court program.
  • In Phase Three, community service is concluded, and the offender’s court costs are paid in full.

When the participant concludes Phase Three, he or she “graduates” from the Drug Court program, provided that there have been 120 consecutive days of clean drug screens.

WHAT IF SOMEONE REFUSES TO PARTICIPATE?

Colorado’s Drug Court programs use rewards and sanctions. Sanctions for violating the conditions and terms of the program may include additional monitoring, more meetings with a probation officer, additional community service, or incarceration.

What can happen if a convicted offender avoids or refuses court-ordered rehabilitation? An offender who is offered a Colorado Drug Court program and refuses to participate or avoids participation will almost certainly be ordered to serve his or her full sentence behind bars.

If you’re arrested for a drug offense in Colorado – anything from a serious felony charge for trafficking to a misdemeanor charge for possession for personal use – you must have your attorney present for any questioning or exercise your right to remain silent.

WHAT STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE IF YOU ARE ARRESTED?

After an arrest, don’t say anything, sign anything, or agree to anything until you are able to consult with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney. Don’t try to be your own attorney. You will need a lawyer who has considerable experience in Colorado drug cases.

prison fence

The Drug Courts in Colorado reduce drug crimes, repair lives, and bring real hope to scores of convicted drug offenders and their families – for less cost to the taxpayer than prisons and jails.

Of course, if you’re charged with a drug crime, and you’re innocent, tell your attorney and do not accept any plea deal. If you are innocent, and the charge against you cannot be dropped or dismissed, you have the right to a trial by jury, where your attorney will ask jurors to acquit you.

HOW WILL A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAW FIRM FIGHT ON YOUR BEHALF?

If your rights were violated by the police during an investigation, an interrogation, a search, or an arrest, your lawyer may be able to have the charge against you dismissed. To obtain a conviction, the state must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and that’s not always easy.

You may also be innocent of a drug charge if you’ve been misidentified or if someone has fabricated an allegation against you. If you are innocent of the crime you are charged with, tell your attorney to “go the distance” on your behalf.

However, if you’re in court for a first drug offense in Colorado, and you’re guilty, Drug Court may, in fact, be the best option available. The goals of Drug Court participants are rehabilitation, personal accountability, long-term success with drug and alcohol issues, and a crime-free future.

COULD A DRUG COURT PROGRAM BE RIGHT FOR YOU?

Persons of all ages, races, and income levels – even those who’ve struggled with addiction for years – have successfully completed a Drug Court program in Colorado. Across the nation, thousands succeed and overcome their substance abuse issues with the help of drug courts.

drug court success

If you are charged with a drug crime, an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney can tell you more about Drug Court and determine if you qualify. The most important thing to remember is that if you are arrested, you must obtain a reliable defense attorney’s help – immediately.

By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.