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Drug Court

Orange County Drug Court is part of a system of collaborative courts whose aim is to address issues in the lives of non-violent drug offenders. California has at least 203 drug courts that address addiction to all types of drugs, narcotics and controlled substances.

The goal of California Drug Court

Drug court was founded on the principle that non-violent drug offenders would benefit more from going through a drug rehabilitation program as opposed to being incarcerated.

The goals of drug court include:

  1. Reducing drug use and preventing of repeat offenses (recidivism),
  2. Ensuring permanent recovery through treatment and rehabilitation,
  3. Reducing the burden on tax payers, as the cost of incarceration is a lot higher than the cost of rehabilitation.

To successfully meet these goals, a participant must undergo:

  1. Strict supervision by a probation officer,
  2. Counseling by health care practitioners from the division of alcohol and drug abuse,
  3. Regular appearances before the court,
  4. Random testing for alcohol and drug consumption,
  5. Meetings to review progress.

If a participant does not cooperate with the drug court program requirements, the court will impose sanctions against them such as community service, jail or termination from the program.

Cooperation and progress are also rewarded with incentives, including lesser restrictions and graduating from the program.

For participants to graduate, they should:

  • Acquire a GED,
  • Get into a training program,
  • Get employed,
  • Regularly attend self-help meetings,
  • Consistently attend counseling sessions, and,
  • Appear before court and probation hearings,

After completing a drug court treatment program, participants are rewarded with a dismissal of criminal charges against them.

Drug courts have programs in

Adult courts, where adult drug offenders undergo at least a year in a drug program,

Dependency courts, which focus on curing parents of drug dependency so that they can care for their children, thus decreasing the number of children who go into foster care, and,

Juvenile court, where cases involving underage offenders are handled.

The four models that govern drug court programs

  1. The pre-plea model:

    Under this model, an offender can participate in a drug-court program without entering a guilty plea.

  2. Post-plea model

    Under this model, a defendant must first plead guilty to charges before being allowed into a drug treatment program, which will last between 9 months to 3 years.

  3. The post-adjudication model

    This models governs treatment of repeat drug offenders. After an offender has been convicted, treatment is offered in place of incarceration. If the program is not completed, the offender is sent to jail or state prison.

  4. The civil model

    This model governs treatment of offenders who are party to a civil action, most commonly in child custody suits. The aim is to give an offender the opportunity to get treatment in order to be deemed fit to gain custody of his or her child. Failure to complete treatment under this model results in permanent loss of custody.

In pre and post-plea models, defendants are entitled to a dismissal upon completion of treatment. If you are facing a non-violent drug charge, a criminal defense attorney can help you with the drug court process as opposed to the traditional criminal court and incarceration. The structure of drug court is less formal and affords more flexibility to handle each case, with the best interest of the offender in mind.

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