The criminal justice system in the United States is not built toward helping drug addiction. There is significant evidence to show that being sent to prison for drug-related crimes does not help those with substance use disorders recover and that people are significantly more likely to reuse drugs once they leave prison. Once people leave prison, they are given no support for their addiction, and their life is made much more difficult with a criminal conviction.
The criminal legal system, which includes the police, Judges, and prosecutors, is built against drug users. The priority of the police and prosecutors is to get your case through the court as soon as possible and secure a conviction. They do not care about your life or your future, which is why you need to take steps to protect yourself. If you are facing charges or have been convicted of a drug-related offense in Illinois, it is vital that you contact a criminal defense attorney.
At Hirsch Law Group, we have seen how the criminal justice system is built against those with a substance abuse problem and how it does not offer sufficient support to drug users. Our lawyers have been helping clients fight drug charges for over 15 years, and we have the unique experience of having worked as former prosecutors. As such, we know the dirty tactics that they use to secure a conviction and we use this knowledge to build a strong criminal defense on your behalf.
We can help you by petitioning to get your case heard in a drug court, building a strong criminal defense on your behalf, arguing to get your case thrown out, and guiding you toward rehab programs to help you on the road to recovery. Our lawyers want to help you in any way that we can, and we have a proven track record of getting positive results.
Drug addiction affects all walks of life, regardless of status, financial situation, family, or age. Most people do not expect when taking drugs for the first time that they will develop a substance abuse problem, however, it can happen very quickly. Once you become addicted to drugs, whether it is cocaine, heroin, or prescription drugs, getting sober can be quite difficult, particularly if you have been convicted of a crime.
The consequences of drug addiction are severe and affect not only a person’s physical but also mental health. The physical effects of substance abuse can include weight loss, a weakened immune system, infectious diseases, and serious withdrawal symptoms when recovering from prolonged drug use.
Mental health issues can in many cases impact a person’s decision to begin using drugs, however, many people develop severe mental health problems due to continued drug use. Issues such as anxiety, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and schizophrenia can be significantly worsened due to continued drug use and can have serious consequences for those affected. In many cases, drug-abusing offenders suffer from some form of mental health issue, which makes it more difficult for them to seek treatment and avoid drug charges.
For many people, overcoming drug addiction alone can be extremely difficult. However, there are many addiction treatment programs in Illinois that can help addicts begin their road to recovery and break free from the cycle of criminality and drug use. Drug rehabilitation services offer medical treatment, counseling sessions, support groups, and much more.
Consequences of Drug Addiction
Drug addiction, or substance use disorder, has been defined as a chronic disease by the American Medical Association and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. As such, there is no one cause of substance addiction and it may be caused by a wide range of factors including environmental, biological, and developmental. Those who suffer from substance use disorders often experience significant changes in their behavior, leading them to engage in activities that they would never normally do if they were not under the influence.
As a result, many people get caught up in the criminal justice system due to their addiction to drugs. The law on drugs in Illinois is tough and once you are first thrown into the prison system it can be quite difficult to get out. Many people get caught up in the criminal legal system with simple drug possession offenses, which lands them a criminal record. While in prison, people may struggle to get addiction treatment and may find it hard to stay clean, particularly when they leave.
Once a person has a criminal record, it can be significantly more difficult to take part in society, and criminal offenders face difficulties accessing employment, education, housing, and much more. As a result of this, many people get caught in a cycle of drug use and drug-related crime, which can be tough to escape without help. The criminal justice system is built against those charged with drug crimes, as prosecutors and police officers prioritize securing convictions for drug charges rather than allowing people the opportunity to get help.
Drug Offenses in Illinois
Criminal law in Illinois takes a tough approach toward drug offenders, and drug-related offenses are regarded as among the most serious crimes, with harsh penalties attached. Illinois law and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) categorizes illicit drugs into particular categories, depending on the level of risk the substance poses to members of the public. The most dangerous drugs fall within Schedule I, II, and III, and have the harshest penalties attached to them. Drugs in these categories include heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, LSD, and ecstasy.
- Drug Possession – Penalties for drug possession offenses can vary, depending on the schedule and the quantity found in your possession. You could be looking at a couple of months in prison or up to 50 years, and fines of up to $200,000.
- Possession with intent to sell – Penalties for this crime can include from 1 to 9 years in prison, depending on the substance and quantity.
- Drug trafficking – You may be charged with a Class X felony for this crime, which can include up to 80 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.
It is extremely important to be aware of the harsh penalties that can result from a drug conviction. In addition to the criminal penalties, the person convicted will receive a permanent criminal record, which can have serious consequences on their life and future. You will face difficulties getting employment, accessing education, applying for loans, and much more. However, if you are able to get your case heard in a drug court, you may be able to avoid these harsh consequences.
There is significant evidence to show that incarceration for drug-related crimes does not help an addicted person. Firstly, many inmates report that illicit drug use is still a huge problem within prisons in Illinois. Drugs are often accessible to inmates in prison, meaning many people will be able to access the substance they are addicted to while incarcerated.
Secondly, access to treatment within prison systems is significantly difficult, and many people are made to “go clean” and withdraw while in prison, which can be extremely tough. In many cases, people with an addiction to a substance immediately relapse once they are released from prison, which clearly demonstrates the ineffectiveness of incarceration for drug addiction.
Court-ordered rehab is an alternative method of dealing with the huge number of drug-related cases in Illinois. Instead of being sent to prison or put on probation for drug charges, there is the option of attending a drug court and being sentenced to time in a rehabilitation center. Drug courts are built specifically for drug-related cases and they apply an alternative sentencing method. Their purpose is to allow drug offenders to seek rehabilitation and avoid a jail sentence when possible.
Unlike prison, if you are sentenced to a drug rehab center, you will have access to dedicated addiction treatment and be given the opportunity to begin the road to recovery. With support, community supervision, group counseling, addiction medicine, and supervised help, those addicted to drugs will have the ability to break free from the cycle of crime and drug use, rather than be plunged straight back into it with a prison sentence.
How To Get My Case Heard in a Drug Court
Drug courts are not accessible to everyone that is facing drug charges. In fact, accessing a drug court can be quite difficult, particularly if you do not have a lawyer to petition your case. To get accepted to a drug court, your lawyer must first submit a petition on your behalf, outlining why you would benefit from a drug treatment program and showing that you meet the requirements.
Then, a screening process will be carried out by the Judge and medical professionals to assess whether you do in fact have a substance use disorder and whether this disorder caused you to engage in the criminal activity that you are accused of. Once you have passed the screening process, your case will be sent to the drug court, where the Judge has the final say on whether you can be sent to an addiction treatment program instead of prison.
The following requirements must be met to get your case heard in the drug courts:
- Drug abuse is the cause, either indirectly or directly, of the crime you are accused of
- The crime was non-violent in nature
- You have not been convicted of a violent crime within the past 10 years
- The Judge believes that a court-ordered drug rehab program would benefit you
- You qualify for a probationary sentence
Ultimately, the Judge has the final decision on whether you are accepted to a court-ordered rehab facility or not. If you have attended drug courts before and been sentenced to a rehab facility, you will be unable to get a second chance. The requirements for drug courts are quite stringent and apply mostly to nonviolent drug offenders. If you believe you may qualify to get your case heard in a drug court, you should speak with a criminal defense attorney.
Benefits of Drug Court
In comparison to the traditional criminal process, getting your case heard in a drug court can have significant benefits. Studies have shown that over 90% of people who leave prison drink alcohol or take drugs shortly after they are released. Those who suffer from addiction or drug problems are significantly more likely to relapse once they leave prison, as they are unable to receive drug rehabilitation while in prison.
By getting your case heard in a drug court, you have the ability to go through a drug treatment process for your addiction rather than being thrown into prison and having to deal with it alone. Studies, such as the Multisite Adult Drug Court Evaluation (MADCE) have shown that drug court participants are significantly less likely to relapse once leaving a drug rehab program than those who go through the traditional prison systems.
These studies have also shown that those who attend drug courts and receive adequate treatment for their addiction are much less likely to engage in criminal activity once they have left. As such, the evidence shows that by attending a drug court and being admitted to a treatment facility, you are more likely to break the circle of drug use and criminality.
In addition, attending a rehab facility as opposed to prison can look much better on your criminal record. Once you leave the facility and try to seek employment, you will have a significantly higher chance of getting employed when you can demonstrate that you have attended a treatment center for your problems and you are now free from drugs.
Seeking Addiction Treatment
If you do not meet the requirements for a drug court and are unable to go to court-mandated rehab, it is still hugely beneficial to attend a rehab facility or treatment program during the course of your criminal case or while you are on probation. If you are able to attend a treatment program while awaiting your hearing, the Judge on your case may act more favorably toward you, as they will be able to see that you are taking steps towards rehabilitation.
Judges are less likely to award harsh sentences and jail time for drug-related cases when the defendant is in the process of getting clean. However, this depends entirely on the circumstances of your case and the strength of your lawyer. A good lawyer will use this rehabilitation as evidence of your awareness and your willingness to break free from the criminality-drug cycle.
In addition, rehab programs can often be the best way to overcome serious drug addiction. By attending rehabilitation while awaiting your drug charge hearing, you will be taking the first steps towards recovery and allowing yourself to get healthy and build a life free from drugs. You can then use the skills and methods you have learned in your rehab program once you have completed your criminal sentence.
Rehabilitation on Probation
As noted, drug courts are not accessible to everyone, particularly if you have been convicted of more than one crime, convicted of a violent crime, or have relapsed after a previous rehab attempt and ended up back in the criminal justice system. As such, court-ordered drug rehab is also inaccessible to a lot of people, resulting in many people with drug problems ending up in the prison system.
However, even if you were unable to attend a drug court and were sentenced to time in prison or probation, you still have the ability to attend a drug rehabilitation program while you are on probation. Often, while on probation, you will be required to attend meetings with a probation officer, take drug tests, and have strict requirements attached to your life. If you can use this time to attend a rehab program, you may be able to get your probation sentence reduced.
If you can demonstrate to the Judge while on probation that you are taking active steps towards recovery and you want to change your life, your lawyer can petition the Judge to get your sentence reduced substantially. In addition, by attending addiction treatment programs while on probation, you will have a better chance of finishing your sentence free from drugs and moving on to a new stage of life.
If you are on probation, it is important that you inform your probation officer that you are attending a rehab facility or program. Because probation officers often have lots of cases, they may be unable to check up on each individual case and you could get written up for a probation violation. Your criminal defense lawyer can help you stay in effective communication with your parole officer to help avoid any violations.
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
Many people who are convicted of a drug-related crime feel at a loss as to how they can move on with their lives. The traditional justice system does not provide sufficient avenues for rehabilitation and instead focuses on punishing those with addiction problems. Because of this, the only way to ensure that you can move on from a conviction is to hire an experienced lawyer that can protect your rights and fight on your behalf.
If you are awaiting trial for drug charges, a criminal defense lawyer can help get your case heard in a drug court and petition to get court-ordered rehab on your behalf. Getting your case heard in a drug court is quite difficult, and there is a lot of paperwork involved in the process. It is unlikely that a public defense lawyer will take the time to petition the Judge and submit complex paperwork to get your case heard in a separate court. However, the lawyers from our firm have significant experience getting our client’s cases heard in drug courts, and we will fight aggressively to prevent you from entering the prison system.
If you have received a conviction and are attending a rehabilitation center for your addiction, a lawyer can petition the Judge to get your sentence reduced or your probation period shortened substantially. Without a lawyer, you will have to fight hard to get your sentence reduced, and it can be extremely difficult to do if you have been convicted of a drug crime. However, an experienced lawyer will use your recovery process as evidence of rehabilitation, which can be hugely beneficial to your case.
The lawyers at Hirsch Law Group are happy to guide you toward addiction services within your area and help you get started on the road to recovery. Our priority is ensuring that your future is protected and that your life is not ruined by a criminal conviction.
Rehabilitation After Drug Conviction
Life after a drug conviction can be extremely difficult, particularly if you suffer from addiction. Criminal sentencing can be tough for those convicted of drug-related crimes, and the prison system offers little support to those with substance abuse problems. When you leave prison, you are often given no tools for reintegration, which leads to many people turning to drugs again.
However, if you have been charged with a drug crime or have received a drug conviction, you should know that there are options available for you to help break the cycle of drugs and criminality. Even though the system is built against you, there are certain steps that you can take to take charge of your own life and help ensure that you do not fall victim to the criminal legal system.
By hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that you are given the opportunity to recover from your addiction. The lawyers at Hirsch Law Group can help your case by fighting to get your case heard in a drug court, guiding you towards addiction services after a conviction, petitioning the judge to get your sentence reduced, and ensuring that you have a strong criminal defense for your case.
Our law firm has a team of aggressive criminal defense attorneys who are ready to help you in any way that we can. We know that the system is not built in your favor which is why we dedicate our careers to protecting the rights and futures of the accused.