If you find yourself facing drug charges here in Memphis, then you’re likely a bit concerned about the impact a conviction may have on your future. Such an outcome in your case may definitively impact your job or custody of your kids.

Your participation in Shelby County Drug Court may lessen the blow, though. You may find it helpful to learn about the drug court system and the qualifying criteria to participate in it. 

What is the Shelby County Drug Court?

Various counties throughout the U.S. run alternative sentencing programs such as drug courts. They aim to give non-violent defendants with substance abuse dependencies an option to avoid incarceration, keep their job and kids and get much-needed treatment. 

These drug court programs’ proponents argue that this approach to dealing with offenders committed to kicking their drug habit often results in them moving forward in leading productive lives. It also reduces recidivism

The Shelby County Drug Court has been in existence since 1997. A grant provided by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services covers a significant portion of the program’s operating costs.

What can Shelby County Drug Court defendants expect?

This alternative sentencing program is voluntary. A defendant must want to change to participate in drug court. A judge generally sentences a defendant to a 12-month term during which they must:

  • Participate in chemical dependency assessments.
  • Attend treatment sessions and 12-step meetings.
  • Comply with random drug testing. 
  • Participate in life skills, parenting, job readiness or anger management sessions as ordered.

The court will regularly check in with defendants to ascertain how well they’re progressing. They’ll continue to remind defendants of the potential penalties that they face for not complying with the program requirements, including remanding the case back to the criminal court system at each step of the way.

Are you eligible to participate in drug court?

Many defendants may fear what their future holds if a judge or jury convicts them of a crime. Not everyone facing a drug crime may qualify for participation in a Tennessee alternative sentencing program — nor is such a program right for everyone. Talking with an experienced Memphis attorney can help you clarify your options.