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Understanding the benefits of drug courts

The state of Florida created the first drug court in 1989 to proactively address drug-related crimes. Today, there are 94 drug courts in the state, including specialized courts for veterans, children and family dependency courts. A 2009 study demonstrated that people who completed drug courts were 80 percent less likely to go back to prison than the comparison group who did not go through the drug court system. A 2014 outcome and cost study of the program completed by the Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability found that the estimated savings of drug courts through reduced recidivism is about $500,000. Successful drug court completers had fewer felony convictions and fewer prison sentences.

How drug courts work

To get your case transferred to a drug court or one of these problem-solving courts, there are certain criteria which must be met. All parties involved in the case must agree to the transfer. If you've been charged with a drug crime, you must voluntarily agree to be admitted to a drug court program. Once you get accepted into the program, you are given specific steps to take to remain and complete the program. For example:

  • You must attend AA/NA or another community based program at least two times per week.
  • You will be required to attend weekly court reviews during Phase 1 of the program. As you complete each phase, the court review attendance drops to biweekly, then every three weeks, and finally down to every eight weeks.
  • You must be enrolled in school or work at least 20 hours per week. This requirement can also be fulfilled by performing community service and doing a minimum number of job searches each week.
  • You will be required to submit to random urinalysis and/or breathalyzer testing.

Drug courts offer a number of advantages over regular court. Obviously, a person stays out of prison and can manage their normal life more effectively. Drug courts provide more supervision to addicted offenders and hold people accountable for their actions while getting treatment. Ideally, a drug court should give hope to the offender and encourage productive citizenship. However, the need to protect the community is still managed. Drug court participants get rewarded for doing well and living up to their obligations. The goal of drug court is to get the addict clean and sober, which benefits the person, the family and the community.

If you have been accused of a crime or are dealing with drug court, you don't need to go it alone. To get the best outcome for your case, it may help to have an experienced lawyer to advocate for you.

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Sutton Law Group, P.A
7721 SW 62nd Avenue | Miami, FL 33143
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