Are criminal defendants screened for substance abuse?

In many states, trained professionals interview and investigate the backgrounds of people arrested for certain kinds of offenses to determine their reliance on drugs or alcohol. These evaluations can inform a judge’s sentencing decision, plea negotiations, or both. They can also shape conditions of pretrial release.

For example, New Jersey has a program by which substance abuse evaluators interview defendants facing drug and property charges. The evaluators work with other professionals, implementing urine testing and preparing reports for judges that detail the defendant’s condition, history, and treatment options. Judges may then condition bail or probation on participation in treatment, substance abuse testing, and the like. (For more on this particular program, see the New Jersey Courts website.)

For more on substance abuse treatment in relation to criminal proceedings, see Substance Abuse Treatment for Defendants Facing Drug and Other Charges. For guidance on handling the substance abuse screening process, consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your area.

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