The participants must be charged with
possession-level offenses for felony-level drugs, such as
cocaine, heroin, oxycodone (OxyContin),
alprazolam (Xanax), marijuana (over 20 grams), and
or possession with intent to sell offenses are not referred to Drug Court.
Drug Court participants must attend AA/NA meetings, go to group and individual
counseling, and submit to regular drug-testing. Participants must also
pay monthly fees.
Drug Court participants have regularly-scheduled court dates where they
must appear before a judge or magistrate. Participants with criminal defense
attorneys attend court along with their lawyers. During these court sessions,
the judge or magistrate will review reports from each participant's
counselor. The judge will track the participant's progress as that
person works toward graduation.
If the participant has no prior arrests, their drug charge will be dismissed
upon completion of drug court. Then the participant may be eligible to
have his or her arrest expunged.
However, like any diversion program, a participant may face violation if
they do not comply with their program requirements.
Typically, a Drug Court participant cannot:
- Test positive for drugs
- Fail to report for any meeting or counseling session
- Move or change their address without notifying their program supervisor
- Travel out of the county without notifying their program supervisor
- Fail to report for a drug test (failing to report or refusing to take a
drug test will always be treated as a "positive" drug test)
- Fail to pay fees on time
- Get arrested for a new charge
If a Drug Court participant violates in any of these ways, there are a
number of sanctions. The least severe sanction is that a Drug Court participant
may be forced to attend court sessions more regularly. That means, instead
of every 45 days, they may have to come to court every 30 days.
The participant may have extra conditions placed upon them.
The participant may be required to remain in the program longer than originally
planned. Therefore, their criminal case will remain open longer.
The most severe sanction is being kicked out of Drug Court. If that happens,
your case will get sent back to a regular felony trial division where
the case will be set for trial. You will likely not receive another chance
at Drug Court.
Violations are not uncommon. As many of us know, relapse is a part of recovery.
Positive drug tests are some of the most common violations. Knowing this,
the Drug Court judges and magistrates are compassionate, and usually willing
to give the participant another chance. However, if the participant has
too many positive drug tests, they will be kicked out.
Drug Court must be taken seriously. A good criminal defense lawyer can
help a client get into Drug Court, but the client must take on the challenge
of getting sober on their own. Drug Court is good in that it permits a
first-time, non-violent drug user to avoid becoming a "criminal."
It also helps the drug user kick the habit and get clean.
I have helped clients get into Drug Court, and I continue to represent
them while they work through the program. Every single month, I proudly
accompany my Drug Court clients as they go before the judge and explain
the progress they are making. And when they graduate, I help them to clean
their criminal records.
I represent clients in Miami-Dade and Broward charged with a variety of
drug crimes. I fully support Drug Court and always work to get my first-time
offender clients into the program should that be their best option.
today if you or someone you know has been charged with a drug possession
crime in Miami-Dade or Broward.