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Drug crimes can lead to treatment in Queens

Being arrested on a drug charge can be a life-changing experience. But whether it changes one's life for the better or worse can be up to the arrested individual.

Arrests for drug-related offenses can indicate the presence of a really bad drug habit. Sometimes prosecutors and judges gives defendants the opportunity to turn their lives around through the Queens Misdemeanor Treatment Court. Below is some information about the court and how it can be helpful to defendants.

The QMTC first opened its doors back in January 2002. Since then, more than 1,500 men and women have been screened. Of that total, over 200 managed to successfully complete the program requirements. In this year alone, over half of the defendants who plea-bargained in court to go through the program stayed in treatment.

Those at QMTC are committed to assisting eligible defendants to break the vicious cycle of addiction by referring them to substance abuse treatment and providing them with positive alternatives to illegal drug use.

The program is designed for first-time offenders whose crimes are not felonies. To qualify, they must have been arrested in Queens on drug charges and also be drug abusers. QMTC is an alternative to probation or jail and works by getting offenders into drug and alcohol treatment programs. Participants are monitored with regular court dates and are supervised by the QMTC judge in a designated courtroom within the Queens Criminal Court.

While time spent in the program varies due to the crime defendants were charged with, their plea, criminal history and day-to-day progress while in treatment, most spend at least a year or two in the program.

If you feel that you may qualify for the QMTC, discuss it with your criminal defense attorney. He or she may be able to negotiate with the prosecution and get them to recommend it to the judge in lieu of an outright drug conviction on your record.

Source: nycourts.gov, "Welcome to the Queens Misdemeanor Treatment Court!" Aug. 21, 2014

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Robert D. DiDio
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