What is Drug Court?
Drug Court is an opportunity for nonviolent criminal offenders, who are dependent on alcohol/other
drugs, to receive addiction treatment and rehabilitative services to address dissocial/criminal behavior
instead of incarceration. The program offers participants a chance to take control of their lives, end the cycle of drug abuse/crime/incarceration and learn how to live sober, responsible, and satisfyingly
How long does Drug Court last?
Participants will be involved in services for a minimum of 18 months.
How does Drug Court work?
Applicants must be referred by a Defense Attorney, Prosecutor, Law Enforcement Representative or
Probation Officer. After a referral is received the applicant is evaluated by the Drug Court Team. Evaluation includes a biopsychosocial assessment of the applicant, psychosocial assessment of family/significant others, an evidence based criminogenic risk/needs assessment and a legal assessment.The legal assessment includes the applicant’s criminal history, details of current charges, prosecutorrecommendation, law enforcement, and victim recommendations.
Participants are required to plead guilty to their charges and are sentenced at the plea. If the participant successfully completes Drug Court the charges that he/she pled guilty to will be dismissed. If the participant fails to meet program requirements and is terminated from the program, the participant will then be incarcerated and his/her case referred back to General Sessions Court and the sentence received at the time of the guilty plea will be imposed. It is important to clearly understand that the sentence will be carried out if the participant is terminated from Drug Court.
Participants are closely supervised by the Drug Court Judges and the Drug Court staff which includes the Programs Director, the Drug Court Coordinator, and the Drug Court Investigator. Drug Court supervision is very different from Probation supervision and includes many restrictions on the participant’s daily activities. Restrictions decrease as the participant progresses and demonstrates commitment to recovery and rehabilitation. Drug Court is not an “easy out”. While abstinence from the use of alcohol and other drugs is essential to successful completion of the program, participants are required to demonstrate fundamental changes in thinking and behavior. Following is as important as achieving sobriety. Not adhering to society’s rules/laws is the reason the participant is involved in the criminal justice system.
What does a Drug Court participant have to do while in Drug Court?
Participants have to stop using alcohol/other drugs and discontinue criminal behavior. Participants
absolutely must obey all laws. Participants have to be fully engaged in their recovery and rehabilitation.Requirements include arriving on time for all appointments, therapy sessions, drug tests, calling the information line every day, working or going to school full time, participating in community self-help programs, obtaining a GED or High School Diploma, and working to improve significant relationships. Avoiding contact with known substance abusers and/or drug dealers is a fundamental requirement. You can’t stay sober and clean if you are exposed to others who are actively drinking or using other drugs. Depending on the needs of the individual there may be other therapeutic or rehabilitative requirements such as participation in parenting classes or vocational rehabilitation services. Successful completion requires participants to be in compliance with all Drug Court rules and to follow through on all treatment recommendations.
What happens if Drug Court participants fail to comply with the Program’s requirements?
The Drug Court Program is both supportive and demanding of participants. In exchange for an
alternative to incarceration and an opportunity to establish a drug free/prison free life, participants are
required to consistently follow exacting rules. Relapses are handled therapeutically if the participant is honest and willing to seek help, but lack of effort and dishonesty result in negative consequences. The team understands that old behaviors die hard and the programs requirements are geared toward
developing the life skills necessary to support long term recovery and rehabilitation. The behaviors that are most frequently sanctioned are lack of honesty and failure to be responsible.
Failure to comply with the Program’s requirements will result in sanctions. Sanctions are based upon
the severity of the offending behavior, taking into consideration the participant’s overall history of
compliance/noncompliance as well as his/her overall attitude and behavior. Sanctions can vary
according to the circumstances of each situation and the unique needs of each individual. Sanctions
may include but are not limited to:
- Written assignments to be presented to staff or in Court
- Increased drug testing
- Increased Court appearances
- Increased participation in counseling sessions
- Community service
- Repeating earlier Phase or Phases
- Referral to inpatient treatment
- Temporary Incarceration ranging from a few days to several weeks
- Termination from Program participation
If participants consistently fail to comply with Program requirements, they may be removed from the
Program by the Judge. If participation is terminated, he/she will be incarcerated, referred back to
General Sessions Court and will subsequently begin serving the sentence imposed at the time of the
Guilty Plea. That sentence will not be changed or reduced.
Before a participant is removed from the Program the Judges, Team and Counselors exhaust all available resources to find treatment and rehabilitation solutions to problems. The decision to terminate participation is always the last resort. The Judges and Team members want to see each participant succeed and healthy behavior is recognized and rewarded.
To be eligible for Drug Court the following is required:
- Must be 17 years of age or older.
- Must not be charged with a violent offense during which a person carried, possessed, or used a firearm or dangerous weapon.
- Must not have a history of violent offense convictions.
- Must not have offenses of the nature described above pending before any other court.
- Must not have a prior criminal convictions involving sexual assault or any felony with a child victim.
- Must be dependent on a mood altering substance or substances.
- Must be highly likely to be sentenced to imprisonment for the offence(s) charged.
- Must have a place of residence within York County.
- Must have reliable transportation.
- Must plead guilty to charges to a negotiated sentence as agreed upon by the Assistant Solicitor and the Defense Attorney.
- Must have the cognitive ability to participate in the assessment process and treatment.
- Must apply within 90 days of arrest.
These are hard and fast rules. If the defendant does not meant even just one of these requirements the defendant cannot apply to drug court. This is non-discretionary. Otherwise, if a defendant meets all of these requirements, they are eligible to apply. This is also non-discretionary. Your objections to a particular defendant going into Drug Court can be expressed in the form we fill out for the Solicitor’s Office Drug Court Team.