Offenses involving controlled substances are some of the most common crimes that are prosecuted in South Dakota. Both misuse of prescription substances and also possession of prohibited drugs can lead to criminal prosecution. Anyone who is involved in the distribution or manufacturing of such substances will also be at risk of prosecution, often for more severe charges that carry the risk of higher overall penalties.
Many people who violate controlled substance laws are not hardened criminals motivated by financial gain but are rather individuals who are struggling with some kind of substance abuse disorder. They possess drugs for their own use, and any sales may occur solely to support their habit. For those arrested for a drug offense in South Dakota that directly relates to an addiction, the South Dakota drug courts, which are a form of problem-solving court, could be a viable solution.
How do the drug courts work?
Those accused of non-violent drug offenses in South Dakota can request to have their cases hurt in drug court instead of criminal court. Rather than pleading innocent and trying to defend against the charges, the defendant will ask the courts for support in their efforts to overcome their addiction.
Drug court proceedings last longer than a basic criminal trial in South Dakota and will require that someone undergo treatment for their substance abuse disorder. They will need to have frequent meetings with court officials and agree to perform randomized drug tests. If someone successfully abides by the rules set by the drug courts, they can avoid a criminal conviction, standard criminal penalties and a lifetime criminal record.
Additionally, the treatment that they undergo might actually help them improve their physical and emotional health by regaining control over their substance abuse disorder. The Minnehaha County Courthouse houses the Second Judicial Circuit Drug Court. Since 2011, the local drug courts have helped those struggling with addiction regain control over their lives and avoid a permanent criminal record.
Those who qualify for and successfully complete drug court in South Dakota will avoid criminal penalties while hopefully also overcoming their substance abuse disorder. Exploring pretrial diversion like drug court proceedings is one potentially viable approach to handling pending South Dakota drug charges, although it is important for those who have been accused of wrongdoing to fully explore their rights and options with the assistance of a legal professional before committing to a legal strategy one way or the other.