For decades, Florida drug court programs have served as a viable resource for adult and juvenile non-violent drug offenders and their families. They can be a way for eligible participants to seek treatment and potentially reduce the legal penalty associated with their drug crimes. Florida was the first state to implement drug courts in 1989; today the State has 94 drug courts operating and seven more planned to open in the near future. This includes 57 adult courts, 20 juvenile courts, 13 family courts and four DUI courts. Florida’s drug court programs are a mechanism of pre-trial intervention.
What Do Drug Courts Do?
According to Florida Statute 397.334, “each county may fund a treatment-based drug court program under which persons in the justice system assessed with a substance abuse problem will be processed in such a manner as to appropriately address the severity of the identified substance abuse problem through treatment services tailored to the individual needs of the participant.” This means that each of these types of courts serve defendants on a case-by-case basis, based on the nature of their infractions, family situation, recidivism status and where they lie in the legal processing cycle. Components of Florida drug courts include:
- Integration of Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services into Justice System Case Processing
- Integrating a Non-Adversarial Approach
- Early Identification of Eligible Participants
- Continuum of Services
- Alcohol and Drug Testing for Abstinence
- Coordinated Strategy for Responses to Participants’ Compliance
- Ongoing Judicial Interaction
- Monitoring and Evaluation for Program Effectiveness
- Interdisciplinary Education
- Partnerships with Relevant Stakeholders
The “non-adversarial approach” component is key because it means that penalties don’t necessarily have to lead to incarceration or other potentially life-altering consequences. Instead, it allows for working together co-operatively to reach the best resolution for everyone. Sometimes this means reduced sentencing in conjunction with treatment; sometimes it can mean treatment in lieu of incarceration.
How Can I Find a Florida Drug Court Program?
The reality is that drug court programs will often find you and not the other way around. If you’re facing legal penalties related to an eligible drug crime, your attorney will help you navigate the drug court options in your applicable county.
To be eligible to participate in a Florida Drug Court program, Florida Statute §948.08(6)(a) states that the arrestee must be charged with a nonviolent felony and be identified as having a substance abuse problem or be charged with a felony of the second or third degree for purchase or possession of a controlled substance, prostitution, tampering with evidence, solicitation for the purchase of a controlled substance, or obtaining a prescription by fraud. Each County’s drug court program will also have its own set of requirements, as well. Recovery Unplugged works with drug court programs throughout South Florida, including Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward Counties.
You can find drug courts near you by searching the National Drug Court Resource Center Map. It’s important to realize that there are different drug courts for adults, juveniles and families that inform program flow. The Florida Adult Post-Adjudicatory Prison Diversion Program specifically explores the potential for diversion for eligible low-level offenders. While in the program, participants are connected with mental health and community support resources. Successful completion can potentially lead to diverted sentencing.
Recovery Unplugged offers comprehensive court liaison services to help you or your loved one navigate the Florida Drug Court System. We’ve been helping clients avoid lengthy incarceration that can derail their lives. Contact our admissions professionals today to start your treatment today and find out what we can do for you. You deserve a second chance.