With addiction numbers fluctuating every year, countless courtrooms are full of drug or petty-crime charges. Many of those offenders needing treatment over jail time. Court-ordered rehab is something that can be ordered for a defendant instead of jail time where the person goes in for treatment instead of spending time in jail. This can happen if a judge believes and a strong case is made that treatment will ultimately benefit the person more than jail would. Stated by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), an astounding 95% of inmates will consume alcohol or substances after their release. And approximately 60% to 80% of inmates that are released will go on to commit a drug-related crime.

When ordered into rehab by the court, treatment becomes mandatory. Countless times crimes are committed because the person is under the influence of a drug or substance and that behavior could be curbed through treatment. If an attorney can prove that the crime was committed when judgment was impaired, court-ordered rehab could be an option. The same can be said for crimes which have a driving force of alcohol or substance abuse behind them.


Rehabilitation isn’t the route for everyone, and often people tend to be fearful of what going to treatment means. When treatment is mandated by the court, it means that the defendant met the requirements necessary for drug treatment after a minor crime. So what exactly are the qualifications that would make someone qualified to go to treatment instead of jail?

  • The defendant was addicted to a substance or drug at the time of the crime.
  • The defendant committed the crime as a direct or indirect result of alcohol/drug dependency.
  • The defendant wants to get help/would benefit more from treatment than jail time.
  • The defendant has not committed a violent crime or any previous violent crimes.
  • While these are just some of the methods behind eligibility, each courtroom will be different as will each judge presiding over cases. If a strong argument can be made for a defendant, a judge might just agree.


Drug abuse costs a lot. It can cost friends, family members, and entire lives. Substance abuse also costs a lot of money for both the addicted and your average taxpayer. Many treatment centers will take patient insurance to cover the costs of rehabilitation services. The cost of treatment can vary anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 and will differ depending on the type and length of treatment.

If a halfway house or sober-living facility is suggested after treatment, patients will be expected to pay the cost of rent and other housing bills. Again, insurance is taken by many treatment centers, and they will often work with you so you can get the treatment you need for a price you can afford.

What do you agree to when you choose rehab and what happens if you don’t complete treatment?

When you agree to enter treatment that is court ordered, you will have to sign court documents that state you will enter and complete the rehabilitation program determined by the court. You are agreeing to not using any substances for the duration of your treatment and will submit to drug testing periodically to prove your compliance with the order. Some court-ordered treatment may have a community-service component that would also need to be completed along with the treatment.

If you do not complete treatment or leave treatment before it is completed, you will be incarcerated until you can go before another judge. Going to treatment instead of jail is really for the defendant’s benefit, so it is suggested that people who enter rehab really try to be successful.

Treatment can be scary, but when faced with treatment or jail time, some addicts will choose jail since they know that there is still a way to get their drug of choice. But for other defendants in a rut with nowhere to turn for help, court-appointed rehab is a way to help them get their lives back on track.

Erica Franco Mortimer, MA, LPC, LCADC
Founder and CEO
Center for Healing
Evan Berk Erica is a licensed therapist with over twenty-years experience in mental health. Erica offers practical and straight forward advice to those struggling with addiction and their families. Having deep insight and understanding of addiction, Erica is able to offer guidance to those looking to regain control of their lives.

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