There is no argument in the medical community that drug addition is a medical malady, no different than any other serious medical condition that takes sustained and prolonged medical treatment.
Often in the struggle to overcome addition the addict has periods of sometimes many months in which he is cured of his addiction. However, more often than not, the person addicted relapses into his drug dependency.
In New Jersey the Drug Court Program or “special probation”, requires the defendant to remain drug free throughout the program which can last up to five years. Ascertaining whether the defendant is drug free is done by having the defendant give weekly urine samples which are tested by a State approved lab.
The defendant who tests positive on a second or subsequent test is subject to the revocation of the special probation drug court program and a sentence to jail.
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-14(g) states that a person in special who is subject to drug court revocation can be sentenced by the judge to a limited time of incarcerated from 30 days to 6 months. However, to often judges facing a defendant with more than one positive test are too quick to discharge the defendant from the program and immediately send the defendant to a state prison sentence.
In deciding whether to discharge the defendant from the drug court program the judge must take into account any recommendations of the defendant’s medical or treatment providers. It is imperative that drug court judges understand the great difficulty that defendants with drug addictions have and understand that his is a life time struggle of each defendant who often falls, before the final cure.
There is no argument that a key component of the drug court program is accountability. However, accountability component must be measured with the reality that in most cases there will be slips in the process, and that a quick decision to terminate and jail the defendant does not serve the interest of justice.
In the event that the defendant is terminate from special probation he or she is entitled jail credit for all the time that he or she spent in any impatient facility.
If you are facing the prospects of entering or being terminated for the drug court program you are strongly advised to contact the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr. who has over 21 years in the practice of criminal law in the State of New Jersey, and has handled and counseled many defendants in the New Jersey Drug Court Program.
April 29, 2011
Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
277 North Broad Street
P.O. Box 261
Elizabeth, N.J. 07207