Attorneys from our office represent members of our community charged with drug offenses who cannot afford to hire private counsel.
The legal system has traditionally functioned in an adversarial manner existing primarily to punish and deter those who break the law rather than to rehabilitate those with a substance abuse problem. This adversarial system has not been very successful for those defendants who suffer from drug addiction resulting in a lot of repeat offenders. The Superior Court of Guam has recognized the need for treatment and as a result the Adult Drug Court (ADC) was created.
Once a person is charged with a drug offense, the Court generally appoints us to represent him or her if they financially qualify. We will immediately meet with the client to discuss legal options available and inform them of the penalty for simple possession of a controlled substance which carries a maximum jail term of 0-3 years, 5 years probation, a fine of $5,000.00, community service of 150 hours, mandatory random drug testing and searches, treatment and other conditions as probation or the Court may impose.
Some of the legal options a person has, is the right to a jury trial or to plead guilty to the offense. Unfortunately, a guilty verdict or a guilty plea means a conviction on a person’s record which is permanent. However, if a person qualifies for ADC he or she can avoid this harsh consequence. In order to qualify for ADC, a person cannot have a prior drug conviction or a history of violence. He she must also clinically qualify, that is, suffer from a drug addiction and be willing to enter into an intensive treatment program.
If a person qualifies for ADC, he/she will have to plead guilty to the drug offense. The Court however, will defer acceptance of the guilty plea. This person will immediately enter a treatment program which must be completed within 2 years rather than the 5-year probation period. Failure to complete this program within the time period will result in a drug conviction. Where as a successful completion of the treatment and all other terms will result in the dismissal and expungement of the case and the arrest.