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Drug Court: What it is, Who it's for, See if you Qualify

In short, drug court is an alternative to criminal court for individuals facing non-violent drug-related offenses. Drug court has a few purposes: to reduce overcrowding in jails and prisons, to reduce recidivism rates among individuals facing drug charges, and to provide these individuals with the opportunity to receive treatment for their addictions, rather than punishment.

By successfully completing a drug court program, an individual can avoid being convicted of a drug offense and avoid the penalties associated with that conviction.

Completing a drug court program typically requires the individual to undergo some form of substance abuse treatment and may also require him or her to undergo psychiatric counseling as well. The individual must also undergo regular urine screenings and make regular court appearances as ordered by the program. If the individual fails to comply with their program’s requirements, they may be dropped from the program and have their case returned to criminal court, where they are then subject to prosecution.

Drug Court Programs in Indiana

In Indiana, drug courts are operated at the county level. An individual’s case must be referred to their local drug court by the county court handling the case. For example, if you live in Porter County, your case may be referred to the Porter County Adult Drug Court program. In many counties’ drug courts, you must be a resident of that county to be eligible for its drug court program.

Because they are administered at the county level, the eligibility requirements and treatment processes can vary from program to program. For example, to be eligible for Hamilton County’s Drug Court program, an individual must apply for the program within 45 days of their arrest or charge and they must have a history of unsuccessful substance treatment and/or community supervision, among other eligibility requirements. In contrast, Porter County’s program does not require a history of unsuccessful treatment attempts.

Generally, drug court programs are designed to take eighteen to 24 months to complete. During that time, the individual is required to comply with specific criteria, such as checking in regularly with an assigned law enforcement officer, maintaining employment or schooling, maintaining sobriety, and undergoing treatment as ordered. This criteria varies from program to program, with some programs maintaining more requirements for participants than others. If you’re facing a drug charge and you’re considering pursuing drug court, check the website for your county’s program to find out what the program requires for participants.

Qualifying for Drug Court in Indiana

Who qualifies for drug court also varies from program to program. Generally, eligibility requirements include:

  • Being 18 years old or older
  • No outstanding warrants
  • No previous violent crime convictions

Certain programs restrict participation to individuals charged with specific drug-related offenses, while others admit individuals facing a broader range of charges. In nearly all drug court programs, any applicant with a prior conviction of a violent or sex crime is disqualified.

If you think you qualify for drug court, you can apply for the program through that specific court or speak with an attorney about beginning the process. If your request is approved, the court refers you to the program and remains involved with your case through mandatory court appearances and cooperation with local law enforcement until you complete the program.

Completing a Drug Court Program in Indiana

Successfully completing a drug court program means meeting all of the program’s requirements. Failing a drug screening, quitting the required job or dropping out of school, failing to check in with one’s assigned probation officer, and failing to complete substance abuse treatment as ordered are all grounds for early termination.

Keep in mind, participation in drug court is a privilege, not a right. It is also completely voluntary–if you are facing a drug-related charge and you’re offered the opportunity to work through drug court, rather than the traditional court process, the choice is completely yours. That said, working with a lawyer who has experience representing individuals facing drug charges and navigating drug court can dramatically increase the likelihood of your case reaching a fair outcome that sets you on the path to recovery.

Work with an Experienced Carmel Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing a drug-related charge, drug court could be an option for you. To learn more and determine whether it’s an avenue available to you, schedule a legal consultation with Blankenship Law, LLC today.

When your life is on the line. I’ve got your back.