The so-called war on drugs is one of the most divisive issues of our time. Some believe that jail or prison is the answer for anyone who uses illegal drugs, and that time behind bars is an effective deterrent or punishment, as well as the right way to treat drug or alcohol addiction.
Others believe that addiction is a disease. Jail is not the answer for someone who is accused of drug possession and use, especially if that person is willing to consider counseling options.
Diversion programs should only be considered as a last alternative if there is no hope of fighting the charges because of illegal police conduct when conducting the search and when the evidence is overwhelming and can’t be attached easily at trial.
As a criminal defense law firm in Baltimore, Maryland, our attorneys are familiar with drug diversion programs throughout the area. I know that jail is not the answer to drug use, whether it was one-time college experimentation, casual use, or because of a serious addiction. .
Drug Diversion vs. Jail
Simply put, the “no-tolerance” approach does not work. When you are convicted of drug possession, you face jail time and the stigma of a criminal record. This makes it tougher to find a job and stay on your feet, which is not easy with or without an addiction.
For my clients who face drug possession or underage drinking charges, you might be eligible for a Maryland drug diversion program if your case fits the following criteria:
- A first-time drug possession offense (first-time violation)
- The charges are simple possession of marijuana or minor alcohol offenses
- The case does not involve drunk driving
- The case does not involve a fatal car wreck
Diversion programs are generally recommended for less serious offenses, such as underage drinking. As such, if you are charged with something more serious, like drug distribution, you would not qualify for diversion.
Maryland Diversion Programs
The State’s Attorney diversion programs in Baltimore include the marijuana diversion program, the Drug Treatment Court, Specialized Prostitution Diversion, Homeless Court, Early Resolution Court, and Mental Health Court.
Other programs have included the Aim To B’More Program which provided first-time, non-violent felony drug offenders with jobs and an opportunity to give back to the community after successful completion of the program.
The District Court Division of the State’s Attorney Office is responsible for the prosecution of misdemeanor criminal offenses as well as all jailable traffic offenses which occur in the City of Baltimore in three separate courthouses:
- the John R. Hargrove, Sr. Courthouse located at 700 E. Patapsco Avenue;
- the Eastside Courthouse located at 1400 E. North Avenue; and
- the Borgerding Courthouse located at 5800 Wabash Avenue (commonly referred to as “Wabash”).
The Early Resolution Court in District Court oversees several diversion programs and treatment options for non-violent misdemeanor offenders. Those diversion programs in Baltimore, Maryland, include:
- 90-Day Diversion Program: Provides social work services to non-violent misdemeanor offenders during a 90-day supervised probation period.
- Specialized Prostitution Docket: Provides intensive case management and social work services to offenders charged with prostitution. Defendants meet weekly with their assigned social worker and receive assistance in obtaining health insurance, identification, housing, job training, mental health and/or substance abuse treatment and more.
- Docket for Homeless Persons: Provides wrap-around services to homeless individuals charged with nuisance crimes (e.g. trespassing, misdemeanor theft, open container, etc.). Service providers from throughout the City participate in the bi-monthly docket to provide defendants with health care, housing assistance, employment assistance and more.
- First Veterans Treatment Docket in Baltimore City: The docket provides an alternative to incarceration to veterans charged with non-violent misdemeanors. Veterans who qualify for, and accept the docket, are entered into one of three tracks:
- 90-Day Diversion
- Plea with Sentencing Sub Curia
- Traditional Supervised Probation with Supportive Services
Finding an Attorney for Drug Diversion Programs in Baltimore, MD
You may be eligible for a Maryland criminal drug diversion program. And if you fulfill all the requirements of the program, you can avoid jail time and a conviction on your record.
As a Baltimore drug charges attorney defending people throughout Maryland since 1992, I know that jail and a criminal record is not the answer for drug or alcohol possession. Diversion could be your best option.
For a free consultation, contact James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates at 443-709-9999 today. We have two offices conveniently located in Arbutus and Catonsville.