Drug addiction destroys lives and for some people, can, unfortunately, lead to involvement in a crime.
Even people with no criminal background who previously led law-abiding lives can be derailed by serious drug abuse. Sadly many people are further brutalised when sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Mixing within the criminal subculture, predictably, can increase the chances that a person descends into further criminality.
This is one of the reasons the judicial system has developed alternative methods of dealing with drug offenders, including orders for them to go into a rehabilitation facility for treatment. In this way, a person who has committed a drug offence stands a better chance of being ‘diverted’ from further criminal offences onto the path of recovery.
How do such alternative sentences work?
In Queensland, magistrates can refer a person to the state’s Drug and Alcohol Court started in Brisbane in 2018, where they may be placed on a drug and alcohol treatment order. Under this order, adult offenders are supervised and undertake treatment to address their drug and/or alcohol dependency issues and criminal offending.
Offenders will generally be required to agree to complete a two-year program in the community while serving a suspended sentence. Those who appear in front of the Drug and Alcohol Court, however, must live within the Brisbane Magistrates Court district.
Judges and Magistrates may also impose a condition that an offender participates in rehabilitation, treatment or other intervention program or course as part of their bail conditions.
Some treatment programs offer live-in accommodations to people who are on bail for an offence. A person who is willing to reside at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre as a condition of their bail can ask a drug and alcohol counsellor at the centre to arrange an assessment. If assessed as suitable for a live-in program, the treatment centre can provide written confirmation to be produced to the court.
A bail application by a person remanded in custody on drug charges or who has previous convictions for similar offences can help their cause before the court by providing proof they are addressing the offending behaviour, such as a letter confirming placement in a drug rehabilitation centre or that they are undertaking to counsel.
Case example: In February 2022 a former Queensland Corrective Services officer accused of drug trafficking in methamphetamine was granted bail to attend an eight-month rehabilitation program after two unsuccessful earlier attempts at bail.
Lawyers for the man said he feared for his life if sentenced to a custodial term given his former career in Corrective Services.
‘I must say in the circumstances there’s the purely social benefit aspect of this that these spots in these clinics are pretty hard to come by and if somebody’s got one, I think in the overall interest of justice and social interest it’s a pretty big move to prevent him from taking it up,’ the judge in the case observed.
Seek help from experienced criminal lawyers
While some courts will divert an offender towards drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs – particularly if they are first offenders – in other situations an offender will need to convince the court they should be allowed bail to undertake rehabilitation and avoid a jail sentence.
If you are facing drug-related charges, you need the guidance of highly experienced Brisbane criminal lawyers. At Hannay Lawyers, our award-winning professionals have the background to help you take advantage of residential rehabilitation programs to get your life back on track.