Being arrested and charged with a criminal offense for most people is an intimidating experience. The combination of a wide variety of potential penalties hanging over your head and a lack of knowledge about the criminal prosecution process itself can be nerve-racking. One question that defendants in drug crimes in San Diego often have is “Will I be drug tested in court?” The answer to that depends on a number of factors.
First, it is important to mention that a judge in a criminal courtroom has a tremendous amount of power and discretion with regard to the defendants that come before the judge. If a judge suspects that a defendant is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while appearing in court a judge can order the defendant to submit to an alcohol or drug test. Common sense should dictate that actually appearing in court under the influence of any substance is not a wise idea. For most people, however, the question is whether or not drug testing will be part of a pre-trial release program or part of a post-conviction sentence. The answer to both of those questions is that drug testing can be part of either program.
When you are arrested and charged with a crime you may be released pending the outcome of your case. A judge will determine the conditions under which you are allowed to be released from custody. Some defendants are released into a pre-trial release program that may include probation-like supervision or even home-detention. As part of a pre-trial release program you could be required to report to a court appointed official and may be required to submit to alcohol or drug testing. If you test positive for drugs the court will likely revoke your release and place you back in custody until your case is concluded.
Post-conviction drug testing is even more common. Defendants who are placed on probation may be drug tested at any time as part of their probation conditions. Some plea agreement or sentences specifically require alcohol and/or drug testing while others do not mention drug testing at all. Whether or not your probation officer actually does require you to submit to drug testing absent a requirement in a plea agreement or sentence will depend on a variety of factors such as:
- The offense to which you pleaded guilty. A drug offense is more likely to warrant drug testing than a theft crime, for example.
- Your criminal history. If you have a history of drug use/convictions your officer will likely test you.
- Your own conduct. If you give the officer reason to suspect you are using drugs you will likely be tested for them.