Man chooses drug court over 10 years in prison |

Man chooses drug court over 10 years in prison

A 31-year-old heroin addict was allowed to go to drug court in an effort to get clean and avoid felony prosecution for burglary.

Gardnerville Ranchos resident Charles David Yale Austin admitted one count of burglary on Tuesday in connection with a Dec. 23 theft of $636 in merchandise from the Indian Hills Walmart.

Austin was charged with burglary because he didn’t have any money when he went into the store.

He was out on bail for a Dec. 15 charge of possession of a controlled substance when he was arrested on the theft.

He said he began using heroin after he hurt his back and started using pills.

Austin told District Judge Dave Gamble that after the Dec. 15 arrest he was locked out of his apartment.

“I don’t know if I went into the Walmart to steal things for my kids for Christmas or to buy drugs, but I didn’t have any money,” he said.

Gamble told Austin that drug court was the best chance he would have to be sober and to avoid being sentenced for a felony.

The burglary charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

If he completes drug court successfully, the felony would be eliminated from Austin’s record.

“It’s good not to have a felony on your record, but the drug court is really so people can quit using drugs,” Gamble said. “We don’t have any better tools than the drug court. After this there’s only prison.”

Austin said he’s ready to give up heroin.

“It’s taken over my life, and I’m ready to get it out of my life.”