Queensland’s Drug and Alcohol Court: Addressing the Root Cause of Crime
In Queensland, we have a significant drug and alcohol problem that is prevalent in our communities. In many cases each week, this is the reason for a significant number of criminal offences. So, how can we actually fix this? A jail sentence is unlikely to address the root cause of the crime rates; it is a temporary fix that makes it more difficult for an individual to re-offend.
The Drug and Alcohol Court
In 2018, Queensland introduced a Drug and Alcohol Court. This court assists people who commit crimes whilst suffering a severe substance use by to treating their substance abuse issues under close supervision. It is an alternative to sending an adult offender to prison.
In addition to providing drug and alcohol treatment services, the Court includes regular court hearings to monitor participants’ progress, regular and random drug and alcohol testing, and intensive supervision of participants.
Based in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on George Street, a Magistrate is assigned to this programme, getting to know each of the defendants and support them through this time.
Who can go to the Drug and Alcohol Court?
Not every criminal offender can claim to have substance issues and go to this court instead of jail. In fact, if a person is charged with a sexual assault offence, their matter cannot be dealt with in the Drug and Alcohol Court.
To be referred to the Drug and Alcohol Court, a person must:
- be an adult who can be sentenced under the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld);
- intend to enter a plea of guilty or have already entered a plea of guilty;
- admit that they have a serious drug/ alcohol problem which has contributed to their offending;
- must live in the Brisbane Magistrate Court District boundary;
- be facing a sentence of imprisonment of up to four years;
- not be serving a term of imprisonment in a corrective services facility (this shouldn’t be mistaken with having not yet obtained bail);
- not be subject to a parole order; and
- not be subject to a cancelled parole order where they are required to serve the unexpired period of imprisonment.
If someone meets these criteria and the Magistrate submits a referral form on their behalf, it is then screened by a Review Team for eligibility and suitability before they are accepted. If a person is not eligible, the Magistrate can refer the matter back to the Magistrates Court or they can proceed to sentence the defendant according to the usual laws.
More information on Queensland Drug and Alcohol Court
If you know someone who is facing criminal charges and is battling a serious drug or alcohol problem, get in touch with our team of qualified lawyers to find out if they might have a chance to have their matter dealt with through Brisbane’s Drug and Alcohol Court.`