Drug Courts are voluntary programs for offenders charged with or convicted of drug and drug-related crimes. An alternative to regular criminal adjudication, Drug Court teams typically consist of a judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, probation officer, and a treatment provider who collaborate to design appropriate treatment and counseling, as well as incentives and sanctions to reduce the offender’s dependency on illicit drugs and recidivism. The Drug Courts follow the ten key components of Drug Court established by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, which follow Evidence Based Principles. Eligibility for Drug Court varies depending on the requirements and restrictions of the particular Superior Court in which the program operates. Defendants typically have a demonstrated drug addiction that has put them in contact with law enforcement and the judicial system. In most cases, the underlying offense must be of a non-violent, non-sexual nature, and the offender must not have committed a prior violent or sexual offense. The process for each Drug Court also varies, although most follow a post-adjudication procedure in which offenders enter the program after pleading guilty. Individuals now on probation, then are given opportunities to utilize drug treatment services, such as counseling and education. Offenders also must abide by certain rules, such as abstaining from drugs and alcohol and obeying any other prohibitions ordered by the judge. If an offender successfully completes the program, often the conviction is reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. Terms of probation, which originally may have continued past the completion point of the Drug Court program, are then often suspended.
For additional information on the national level, please contact the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.