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Queensland Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment (QMERIT) is a pilot drug diversion program in the magistrates courts at Maroochydore and Redcliffe, which started in 2006. It is for people who can get bail and are charged with summary (minor) offences in those courts. You must have an illicit drug use problem and meet the criteria for referral. Drug treatment takes place while you are on bail and before you are dealt with for your charges.
Talk to a lawyer about how you can get referred to the program as part of your bail. You need to try and get onto the program in a very early stage of your court case. You could also talk to a QMERIT Court Liaison and Case Management Service staff member. See the contact details at the bottom of this page.
It is up to the magistrate whether to refer you to the program.
To be eligible, you must be:
You do not have to intend to plead guilty and to agree to take part in the program is not admitting that you are guilty. Your criminal charges will be kept on hold until after you finish the program.
You won't be stopped from entering the QMERIT program just because you have unsuccessfully tried other types of rehabilitation in the past.
The treatment lasts between 12 and 16 weeks. A team of professional people from different government or non-government organisations assess your issues and needs. They come up with an assessment for the court. This is all to help you deal with your drug problem. You get a treatment plan that is right for you. There are a range of treatment options including:
Once the initial assessment is done, the magistrate will make your involvement in the program part of your bail conditions, then you start your individual treatment plan. The court will regularly review how you were going on the treatment program (each six weeks), but you are supervised weekly by members of the QMERIT team.
You have to abide by all the conditions on your bail just like normal, but you will have the support of your QMERIT caseworker.
Normally you would finish your program before your final court hearing (trial) or sentence. The court is given a report showing your achievements and you graduate from the program. The magistrate can take your success into account when you get sentenced for the charges.
If you don't comply with the conditions of the QMERIT program, your caseworker will decide what to tell the court in their report. The magistrate will be told if you:
For further information contact:
You may need legal advice if you
Legal Aid Queensland may provide legal advice about the QMERIT program.
The following organisations may also be able to give legal advice on your matter.
Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to see if they can help with your matter.
Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.
These organisations may also be able to assist with your matter. They do not provide legal advice.
Queensland Health have information about the QMERIT program and additional alcohol, tobacco and other drug treatment programs and services available in Queensland.
Queensland Courts has contact details for the QMERIT and other Courts Innovation Programs.