Pre-Trial Diversion Programs and Drug Court Henrico Cases

The following is taken from an interview with a Henrico County drug lawyer as he discusses potential alternative sentencing methods for those facing their first drug charges in Virginia. To learn more about how these options relate to your case, call and schedule a consultation today.

There are multiple alternative sentencing options for individuals charged with drug offenses.  A lot will depend on the record of the individual and if it is the first offense, there are first offender programs. Typically though what they’ll do in Henrico County along with some other counties in the area is if there is a drug offense or possession charge, you can enter into a drug court program or a diversion program if a juvenile.

For juveniles, they have a pre-trial diversion, but for an adult it’s a pre-trial supervision where before your trial you’ll be tested and required to report to your probation officer. That is it is beneficial for the individual to make sure that they’re clean for all those because if they’re not, they can be arrested immediately and stay in jail until their trial.

But if they comply with their pre-trials, sometimes what will be offered and what we can negotiate is what’s called the first offender program wherein the individual it tested, does community service and complies with the requirements of probation. In the first offender program which requires a drug program to do some community service, it also comes with a license suspension of up to six months. If they comply with those programs after a year they can sometimes get the charge dismissed or in certain cases reduced down to a much lower misdemeanor charge.

There is also a drug court program, where if a person qualifies they can avoid a jail sentence by completing what is a strict program that includes counseling and drug screens.

The whole key there is complying, staying drug-free, but those programs are offered as long as it’s the first offense as long as the amount of drugs in question are pretty minimal and as long as there’s no weapons or violence involved.

Unique Aspects of Drug Cases in Henrico County

One thing, Henrico is a little more unique for especially over the few years is that it has become more receptive to a treatment approach for individuals when it’s an abuse problem that’s a first offense. In other words, in some jurisdictions, you’ll see them immediately want to go straight to punishment and sentencing.

In Henrico, they take an approach where if a defense attorney demonstrates the defendant is actively receiving the treatment they allow the individual to continue treatment in lieu of an immediate jail sentence and use that treatment as mitigation in finalizing the case.

They’ll take the approach in resolving a case which can be very beneficial to the defendant. What is also different is drug court in Henrico, which is if you’ve been before the court before and you violated probation or something of that nature as a result of a positive drug test you can submit to drug court if the commonwealth attorney and Court agrees to it.

Drug court is a very heavily monitored treatment program, you have to be clean, you have to comply with all the court standards, but if you can get through that program you can avoid a lengthy jail sentence which is preferable to most people.

These programs and possible resolution are not available if an individual shows an inability to address the situation, if there’s a lengthy record, if it’s a distribution charge involving aggravating factors weapons, great deal of cash, things of that nature.