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Inside Drug Court

 Eligibility & Processes 

Who is Eligible for Drug Court?

Individuals eligible for Drug Court include:

  • Nonviolent offenders who have committed drug or drug-related crimes.
  • Defendants who are eligible for probation or Class D Diversion.
  • Defendants who have violated current terms of probation related to substance-abuse issues.
  • Defendants who can acknowledge drug addiction and be assessed as eligible on a Substance Abuse Clinical Assessment.
  • Defendants who have not previously participated in a Drug Court program for adult offenders.
  • Defendants who are willing to sign all Drug Court forms, agreements and waivers.

Referral Process

Probation: Once a defendant has entered a guilty plea, the defendant's attorney may ask the judge to order a Drug Court assessment to determine if the defendant is eligible for the program.

Diversion: Defendants may also enter the Drug Court program through the jurisdiction’s local Class D Diversion procedures. The judge may order a Drug Court assessment to determine eligibility.

Drug Court staff conduct the eligibility screening. If the defendant is determined to be eligible, a Notice of Eligibility will be sent to the judge. The team will review the defendant’s assessment and other eligibility requirements and decide whether the defendant is appropriate for the Drug Court program.

While the Drug Court team should have input into the decision, the Drug Court judge ultimately must decide whether to admit an eligible defendant into the program. If the defendant is determined to be appropriate, the judge may order him or her to enter and complete the program at sentencing.

Drug Court Process

Drug Court for felony defendants: can be completed in a minimum of 18 months; 12 months of active participation with 6 months of aftercare.

Drug Court for misdemeanor defendants: can be completed in a minimum of 15 months; 12 months of active participation with 3 months of aftercare.

The program is made up of three phases, each with specific tasks and goals to be completed before advancing to the next phase.

Phase 1: Stabilizing period usually lasts 4 – 6 weeks and includes:

  • at least 3 random urine drug/alcohol screens weekly
  • attend 3 counseling sessions per week
  • attend 1 court session weekly
  • maintain court-approved full-time employment, training or education
  • maintain court-approved housing
  • begin arrangements for payment of court obligations
  • make at least 1 weekly individual contact with Drug Court staff
  • indicate an initial understanding of substance abuse treatment
  • enroll and attend a self-help program, such as a 12-step program
  • remain drug-free for at least 30 consecutive days before consideration for promotion to the next phase

Phase 2: Educational period usually lasts 8 months and includes:

  • at least 2 random urine drug/alcohol screens weekly
  • attend 2 counseling sessions per week
  • attend 1 court session every two weeks
  • maintain court-approved full-time employment, training or education
  • maintain court-approved housing
  • continue paying court obligations
  • make at least 1 weekly individual contact with Drug Court staff
  • indicate an appropriate understanding of recovery principles
  • continue to attend self-help programs, such as a 12-step program
  • remain drug-free for the final 90 days consecutively before consideration for promotion to the next phase

Phase 3: Self-motivational period usually lasts 3 months and includes:

  • at least 1 random urine drug/alcohol screens weekly
  • attend 1 counseling session per week
  • attend 1 court session every three weeks
  • maintain court-approved full-time employment, training or education
  • maintain court-approved housing
  • continue paying court obligations
  • make at least 1 weekly individual contact with Drug Court staff
  • indicate an appropriate understanding of a recovery lifestyle
  • continue to attend self-help programs, such as a 12-step program
  • remain drug-free for the full 90 days consecutively of this phase for a total of 180 consecutive days for both Phases 2 and 3

In addition to these requirements, Drug Court staff also conducts employment, school and/or home visits. Individual program plans may also require domestic violence counseling, anger management counseling, mental health services, or other services the assessment and staff determines the participant needs.

If a participant continues to experience relapse, a higher level of substance-abuse treatment will be considered. If a participant experiences a relapse in either Phase II or Phase III, a demotion to the previous phase will be imposed. Failure to comply with Drug Court requirements will result in sanctions which include, but are not limited to, community service, jail and termination.

What Happens After Program is Completed?

Once a participant has successfully completed all requirements of the Drug Court program, the judge may conditionally discharge the remainder of the probationary period (in the case of a probation-referred participant) or dismiss the charges (in the case of diversion).