With a history of methamphetamine abuse in our state, local and federal agencies continue to vigorously pursue and prosecute persons suspected of trafficking the drug.
Drug possession charges generally represent the least severe types of charges under Hawaii law. However, defending against a possession charge still requires highly experienced legal representation. Even when possession is charged as a misdemeanor, a conviction can lead to harsh penalties. Moreover, a possession charge can easily lead to a felony conviction, based on the quantity of drugs found at the time of arrest.
About 61 percent of domestic violence offenders have problems with substance abuse. In fact, many victims of domestic violence may eventually turn to alcohol or other intoxicants as a means for coping with their circumstances. While substance abuse treatment alone does not automatically cure domestic violence, it can play a vital role in helping offenders understand and correct their behavior. Additionally, pursuing voluntary treatment before trial can potentially help convicted offenders receive lighter sentencing.
As a former state prosecutor in the 1980s, Judge Steven Aim first witnessed an inconsistent system that immediately incarcerated many convicted common criminals while releasing others on probation. Once on probation, the overwhelmed system typically failed to take any corrective action when offenders violated the terms of probation. Drug and alcohol problems seemed to be a common thread that connected offenders to their criminal behavior. After he became a judge in 2001, Judge Aim conferred with the principal parties involved in law enforcement and defense to develop Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) program, designed to take a consistent approach to probation that gives participants a greater chance of success.
In the year 2000, Hawaii was added to the list of states that instituted medical marijuana laws and more states are currently considering similar laws. However, federal law does not legalize any form of marijuana usage, and in the event of a conflict with state laws, the federal laws typically take precedence - potentially with disastrous results to defendants
Established in 1995, the Hawaii Drug Court program was created to provide options outside of the criminal justice system to first-time, non-violent drug offenders. While the program has successfully helped many drug offenders, it did not address the special needs of youthful offenders. In an effort to provide a greater chance for errant children to move toward bright futures, the Juvenile Drug Courts (JDC), established in 2001, address many concerns, including:
Crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as crystal meth or ice, is the most widely used illegal drug in Hawaii. Users and distributors of the drug have been targeted by multifaceted and intense federal, state and local law enforcement efforts.
Drug law reform can help to reduce prison populations and alleviate unnecessary and costly overcrowding. It can add to state tax coffers. And it can increase respect for the law. Nationwide, marijuana reform is by far the most popular type of criminal justice reform.