This is the next post in my series on prescription drug cases in Phoenix, Arizona. My last article briefly looked at whether one charged with a prescription pill offense should enter into TASC or another pretrial diversion program. This post expands on that topic by looking at an important issue – the need for one to be honest with themselves before deciding whether to enter such a program. Maricopa County residents who enter TASC, without giving it adequate thought, may be setting themselves up for failure. I have seen such situations in my practice and I feel a blog post on the topic is necessary.
Many Phoenix residents don’t fully appreciate and understand the often difficult requirements of TASC
Many Phoenix residents make a mistake after being charged with a prescription drug offense. This mistake is thinking that they can complete TASC with little difficulty. Rarely are all of the requirements of TASC explained prior to agreeing to it. While many do succeed, there are many who struggle with requirements such as staying drug free, meeting community service requirements, and staying out of trouble. People do not realize that TASC is not simply random drug tests; it is a “treatment” program that includes a case manager, required counseling, classes, and much more. This in turn requires people to have the time, resources, and ability to travel to get to the few centers that exist. Being even five minutes late can place you in violation of the program and have you sent back to Court. Dropping dirty on a drug test, failing to do community service, or committing a new offense likely will lead to the prosecutor moving forward with the original charges (and possibly new ones) without giving the person any ability to try TASC again. In addition to new charges, such a defendant will then have a permanent criminal record.
Consulting with a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer can help residents reach an informed decision as to whether they should resolve prescription drug charges through suspended prosecution and TASC. An attorney can offer insight as to what types of mishaps the Court will consider to be a serious violation of the pretrial agreement and whether they would get a second chance or face prosecution. I have learned that it is essential to build relationships with clients built on trust so that they feel comfortable having what are often, but do not have to be, uncomfortable conversations about their ability to comply with TASC. If one honestly believes that they may commit such mistakes then they may wish to fight the charges instead. Additionally it may be possible to negotiate a plea to a lesser charge, such as a misdemeanor, without the stringent requirements of TASC. Consulting with an attorney can help in reaching this decision.
Phoenix and Maricopa County residents must understand the consequences of failing a pretrial diversion program
There are serious consequences to failing to complete TASC or in otherwise failing a diversion program. As mentioned above, this can result in a new prosecution of the original offense. The Judge would be less likely to be lenient in the event of a conviction as the defendant would have already shown a propensity to not meet requirements of the Court. This can mean higher fines and stiffer penalties for both the underlying case as well as any convictions stemming from new charges. The consequences of failing a pretrial program are, therefore, extreme. Understanding these consequences should be seen as crucial to the decision of whether one will enter such an arrangement.
Contact my office today to speak with a Phoenix criminal defense attorney. I also represent defendants in other Maricopa County cities such as Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Gilbert. We also assist Pima County residents in Tucson.