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Aside from Jail or prison, drug related convictions can have a stigmatizing effect on a person's professional, educational and immigration ambition's. But even when someone is caught red-handed either possessing or selling illegal drugs, there can be ways around a conviction even when there are no legal defenses.
If you are charged with just simple possession of a small amount of cocaine, heroin or some other illegal drug and its your first time, you may qualify for an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal ("ACD"). An ACD does not require a guilty plea and allows for a drug charge to be dismissed and sealed in 6 months. In many cases an ACD is a great way to settle a drug charge in NYC courts.
Even If you are charged with a more serious felony cocaine or heroin possession-charge...for example if you are charged with possession with intent to sell or charged with selling the drugs--you may still be eligible for a program that will result in the dismissal of your charges even if you are not eligible for an ACD.
Talk to you lawyer about CPL 210.16
The Judicial Diversion Program (CPL Article 216) is available in the New York City Criminal and Supreme Criminal courts. Judicial Diversion is a program for felony offenders who face non-violent charges--usually property crimes or drug offenses, and who also abuse alcohol and/or drugs. Instead of jail or probation, Diversion provides in-patient and out-patient drug and/or alcohol treatment program followed by regular court appearances and supervision by a judge.
After arraignment--in many instances--an eligible defendant can choose to be evaluated for the Judicial Diversion Program as an alternative to the regular court process. Persons who abuse alcohol and/or drugs and are charged with a non-violent felony should tell their lawyer that they would like to be evaluated for the diversion program. Upon successful completion the charges are usually dismissed.