Florida comes down hard on people who are convicted of drug crimes. In fact, the state has earned a reputation for being one of the harshest places to receive drug charges in the United States. If you were recently arrested on drug charges, and this is your first offense, there may be an alternative to getting a felony conviction on your record, and it is called Drug Pretrial Intervention Court, also known as the DPTI program.
The DPTI program gives first-time offenders the opportunity to avoid being convicted of a serious crime. In fact, completion of the DPTI program will result in dropped charges.
Once the defendant completes a background check, he or she signs a contract stating that they agree to complete a drug treatment program, and in exchange, the State Attorney’s Office agrees to drop the charges once the program is successfully completed.
Who Qualifies for Hillsborough County’s DPTI Program?
To be eligible for the program, a defendant must meet the following requirements:
- They must be at least 18 years old
- Have no prior felony convictions
- Have not participated in the program before
- They waive their right to a speedy trial
- Admit to having a drug problem
- Expresses the desire to receive treatment
Importantly, those who are facing drug sale or delivery charges are not eligible for the DPTI program. Instead, it’s meant for those with drug possession charges and other types of drug crimes.
How Does the DPTI Program Work?
The treatment lasts a year and is provided by the Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office (DACCO) agency. Treatment starts with a session with a person trained in substance abuse who will help to determine the best options for a person. From there, the counselor will create a treatment plan that’s designed to counter the needs produced by a person’s drug abuse.
Treatment from this agency includes the following:
- Individual counseling
- Group counseling
- Urine screenings
- Support groups such as NA
- Case reviews before a judge
- Meetings with a Department of Corrections probation officer
Once a defendant begins the program, they initially spend about nine hours a week in treatment. However, the treatment gradually decreases as a person progresses through the program.
If for any reason the DACCO program is insufficient to address the individual’s drug problem, then there are more sophisticated programs available to meet the person’s needs.
Does the DPTI Program Work?
According to the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit for Hillsborough County, the DPTI program has proven to be very successful over the years. It’s helped people fight their drug addiction, it’s helped reduce recidivism, and it’s helped people avoid felony convictions so they could be productive members of society.
Is the DPTI Program the Right Decision for Everyone?
While it offers a clear path to having a clean criminal record, the DPTI program isn’t always the best decision for everyone with first-time drug charges. As mentioned above, one of the things a person has to do before they can join the program is decline their right to a speedy trial. In other words, the accused can dispute their charges if they opt for the DPTI program. In some instances, a person facing drug crimes might have a decent chance of successfully fighting their charges.
Speaking with a Florida criminal defense lawyer can help a person decide what to do. While no result with a case is guaranteed, an experienced drug crimes lawyer, such as the ones from Thomas & Paulk, P.A., can help you decide what the best options for your future might be.
Are you facing drug charges? Call us today at (813) 321-7323 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Tampa drug crimes lawyers.