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Going to Rehab Before a Court Date: Can It Help?

While navigating the legal system, the decision to enter a drug rehab program before your court date may feel like a strategic move. But does it make a difference?

Drugs often play a role in incarceration; however, they are not the sole reason a person may find themselves in a courtroom, facing questions about addiction. Scenarios ranging from child custody disputes to involvement in an industrial tribunal can result in a person needing to explain how addiction interfered with their responsibilities.

Will Rehab Help My Court Case?

In short: maybe. In some cases, going to rehab to avoid jail can help your court case. However, whether drug rehab will help your specific court case depends on several factors, including:

  • The nature of the case.
  • The severity of your addiction.
  • Your commitment to recovery.

Many judges would rather see a person improve their life by attending drug rehab rather than being incarcerated. Research shows that prison sentences under six months aren’t long enough to rehabilitate someone. While being incarcerated may keep a person away from substances, it does little to address the underlying causes that contributed to their addiction in the first place.

For these reasons, some judges will consider non-custodial alternatives. Some states openly encourage noncustodial sentences, particularly in drug courts. The purpose of the drug court is to provide a focused alternative to the regular judicial system, especially in areas more affected by drug issues. The first drug court opened in Miami to combat the growing crack cocaine issues in the area. In total, there are around 2,400 drug courts throughout the United States. The idea of drug court is to provide intense supervision for those who need it, combining testing and treatment services along with escalating sanctions for those who fail to follow the treatment process. In exchange for waiving their rights, those who have elected to go to drug court get a faster trial.

Those who participate in drug court are less likely to offend after completion, although it could be that those who participate are more likely to recover. In addition, around 20 states allow a partner to be involuntarily admitted at the request of a spouse even if that person has not committed a crime.

But what about in the regular courts?

Some people would prefer to go through the regular courts because of an inherent distrust of the drug courts or to preserve their rights. Again, it depends on the state, but if you’re attending a treatment or rehab center, you can often get a more lenient sentence or even eliminate any prison time. Of course, that depends on what you’ve been arrested for. Someone who has been arrested for smuggling pounds of cocaine over the border is likely to get a custodial sentence no matter what, but someone who has been picked up for possession is much less likely to do so.

If you’ve been arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, you may well be able to avoid jail time by attending an addiction clinic. By proactively seeking help, you’re saying to a judge that you don’t intend for this to happen again. If you’ve been arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, you may well be able to avoid jail time by attending an addiction clinic. By proactively seeking out help, you’re saying to a judge that you don’t intend for this to happen again.

Some states demand mandatory minimum sentencing for certain drugs. If you get caught in Iowa for meth distribution, you face a minimum of 5 years. One judge recently lambasted the fact that he had no power to exercise good judgment for those whose role in distribution was to transport one of the precursors to meth—pseudoephedrine—in exchange for small amounts of meth.

Ultimately, though, a local attorney will know more. Each state has different sentencing guidelines and different rules regarding drugs, so it’s important to get advice before you head to the courtroom.

Benefits of a Drug Rehab

Drug rehab is beneficial for many reasons. Drug rehab:

  • Provides a safe, supportive environment for individuals struggling with substance use.
  • Provides evidence-based therapy to address the root causes of addiction.
  • Teaches essential coping mechanisms and life skills to prevent relapse.
  • Offers medical supervision during detox, which is important for managing withdrawal symptoms.
  • Provides evaluation and treatment to address co-occurring disorders.

Drug rehab is widely available and can take place in a range of settings to meet the diverse needs of patients. Inpatient drug rehab is a common treatment setting that offers around-the-clock, intensive care within a safe, structured environment, making it ideal for people struggling with severe addictions or co-occurring disorders. Outpatient drug rehab offers many of the benefits of an inpatient program but with added flexibility. This enables individuals to attend therapy while maintaining daily responsibilities and routines. This type of program may benefit individuals with mild to moderate addictions. Both inpatient and outpatient programs emphasize aftercare, including ongoing counseling and support after a formal treatment program is completed. This can help individuals sustain their recovery and prevent relapse.

Finding a Drug Rehab

If you are struggling with drug use, having a conversation with your doctor can be a great way to start the search for a treatment center. You can also use our treatment locator tool to find a drug treatment program near you. American Addiction Centers can help you recover from substance misuse or addiction. Call us 24/7 at to learn about your treatment options. It’s confidential and free, and there is no obligation to enter treatment.

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