Mandatory Drug Court and Significant Threat to The Community Ruling
I applied for mandatory drug court in New Jersey and the prosecutor objected to my participation ruling that I was a “significant threat to the community”. I do not want to go to jail, have a drug problem and want to participate in drug court. How can I get into the program?
Submitted by New Jersey Drug Crime Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In this case the defendant applied for drug court participation. He was charged with a criminal theft by unlawful taking, and a separate unrelated carjacking. He also has a significant prior criminal history.
As a legislative intent to keep as many offenders out of the state prisons, drug court was Created as a voluntary program for many years. However, most recently the legislature amended the drug court statute to make it mandatory in order to target a large percentage of criminal offenders who’s acts are motivated by drug addiction. The intention of the mandatory drug court participation was to specifically target those offenders were those most likely to benefit from treatment and do not pose a public safety risk.
In order to be allowed to participate into the drug court program that you have to be statutorily and clinically eligible.
Track one offenders are those who have exposure to a presumption of incarceration. In other words, if they are found guilty or plead guilty they in all likelihood would be going to state prison. These defendants must satisfy nine separate factors to be eligible for the drug court participation to get out of state prison .
Track 2 participants are those who are not subject to the presumption of state prison and are eligible for drug court under the general sentencing provisions of the criminal code. One of biggest disqualifying factor is under track 2 is whether the defendant is “danger to the community as a result from being placed on the drug court special probation”.
In order to prove these violent tendencies, the state will turn to the defendant’s current charges as well as the facts surrounding the case. The state will also use the defendant’s prior criminal history to determine if he has been convicted of crimes of violence, crimes with weapons, has a prior history of not appearing in municipal or Superior Court, and has left the state jumping bail. Specifically, in this case the state argue that the defendant’s current carjacking charge during which time he accelerated at a high rate of speed dragging the owner along the roadway was more than enough to show his violent propensities. The state also turn to the defendant’s prior criminal history which included resisting arrest, burglaries, assault, theft, robberies, bench warrants, numerous arrests out of state for the same offenses as well as numerous failed attempt at drug treatment programs in Florida.
Here the question is whether the appellate division could overturned the trial judges exercise of his discretion to allow this defended into drug court as a track to applicant. The state are use the defendants extensive criminal violent history makes his decision and abuse of discretion and it illegal sentence. The Appellate Division remanded the case to the superior court trial judge who was assigned to drug court because the trial judge failed to make a record supporting his determination and decision-making process. Without the decision-making process the Appellate Division could not determine if the trial judge abused its discretion. The case was sent back to the trial court.
Jeffrey S. Hark, Esq.