When someone is sentenced for a drug charge, they often receive something called an alternate sentence. Instead of going to prison, the perpetrator is sentenced to a variety of court-ordered classes and community action programs. Court-mandated substance abuse classes are a way for the court to heal a drug addict instead of punishing them, but the treatment itself can feel like a punishment to an addict who’s not ready to get help yet. If an addict misses a court-mandated substance abuse class, there are usually consequences that they must face from the court.
Courts have a broad range of measures that they can implement if a defendant refuses to attend court-mandated substance abuse classes. These measures are instilled into the system to make sure that the people who need help actually get it. An alternate sentence is still a sentence from a court. These court-mandated classes aren’t optional. As such, a court will exercise its authority if a defendant misses substance abuse classes.
Types of Substance Abuse Classes
There are usually dozens of substance abuse classes in a community on any given day, ranging from things like AA meetings all the way to group therapy. Common types of classes include:
- Relapse prevention classes
- AA/NA meetings
- Inpatient detoxes where offenders get 24 hours a day help
- Relationships formed via peer support from group members
- Therapy (criminal thinking classes, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy)
When a Court Mandated Class is Missed
The court can take just about any action to a missed class, from doing nothing but issuing a warning all the way to imprisoning the offender (if they’ve missed enough classes). Usually, the court will do something in-between those two extreme measures. The most important thing for any offender to remember is that the court does very much have the legal authority to revoke your alternative sentence and immediately enact your original sentence, even if that original sentence is 3 years or more in prison. They can also heavily sanction you vita monetary fines.
The court will look at your history of missed classes. Have you missed just a few classes or have you missed all of them? Do you frequently miss classes every week? What’s the cause of the missed classes? Were you sick or did you go out and get drunk and simply not go to one? Your explanation for the missed class or classes and your ability to prove the reasoning behind them will in some cases sway the court to react less severely. For example, someone missing a class because they got in a car accident may be completely excusable and provoke no action from a court. However, someone missing a court-mandated substance abuse class because they were out drinking at a bar might provoke the court to instill monetary fines, increase the number of classes you must attend, or even revoke your alternative sentence and make you serve your time.
Because of the severity of these penalties, it’s natural best to make it to court-mandated substance abuse classes with no missed classes in-between. If you’ve been sentenced to many different classes, it’s natural to sometimes have difficulty keeping up with them. If yo know you’re going to miss the class, be transparent about it. Like all entities and people in life, a court and judge appreciate honesty and transparency; they want to know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it before they can condone your actions. If you are going to miss a class and know there’s no way you can make it, make sure you warn the court ahead of time and perhaps even offer to go to an extra class on another date.
The Purpose of Substance Abuse Classes
Substance abuse classes can prevent relapse and keep people sober, but it’s difficult for addicts to have the motivation to attend these classes in active addiction. Many addicts who are ordered into these programs resist them at first but find themselves enjoying sobriety later on and thankful that the programs existed.
Court order people to substance abuse classes because they’ve been shown to work. They give substance abuse sufferers a way to get better, and with a little oversight from the court, people usually find themselves attending classes regularly and voluntarily. If you miss a class, though, find out what steps to take next.
If you’re facing a situation like this, please call our counselors at 440-252-3565.