Submitted by New Jersey Drug Crime Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In the recent case of State v. Bishop and State v. Torres defendants appealed much harsher extended terms of periods of state prison sentences when they violated their special conditions of probation which allow them to enter drug court.
After violating the terms of the drug court special probation sentences both defendants were resentenced to their alternative state prison terms. The prosecutors asked for extended term in the 2nd degree range above their 3rd degree exposure range of Incarceration with significant periods of parole in eligibility. The Appellate Division ruled the violator of drug court is allowed to be sentenced to any lawful term of incarceration under the original offense for which the person was convicted.
The Appellate Division read the legislative intent to allow for a separate resentencing to greater or more substantial periods of jail after a person flunks out of drug court. Drug court was designed to be an alternative sentence that enables a defendant to take advantage of the states resources and motivation to keep people out of jail. When substantial funds are designated towards drug court, rehabilitation, and special probation conditions, Violation of those conditions and wasting of the states’ resources should not enable defendants to be rewarded with the straight probation or lower jail exposure. Violators of drug court lose their entitlement to “regular probation “when they have satisfied the admissions criteria for special probation. As a result those who abuse the drug court system, with no intention of completing same for complying with the rehabilitation goes, could expose themselves to extended term sentences with greater periods of a mandatory parole disqualification.
In other words, if you intend to participate in the substantial benefits of drug court I a rehabilitation, treatment, no incarceration, and clinical help to overcome drug addiction, ensure that you successfully complete your statutory obligations. If you do not, and our gaming the system to stay out of state prison, you could be exposing yourself to substantial period of second-degree incarceration and extended terms of parole in eligibility.