Drug treatment courts are specialized dockets targeted at people who are experiencing drug addiction or who are dealing with substance abuse problems. The overriding purpose of these courts is to reduce the odds of relapse and recidivism among offenders who have drug issues.
There is significant evidence that these programs are effective: According to data from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, participants in drug treatment courts are more than 20 percent less likely to reoffend than similarly situated defendants.
If you or your loved one was arrested on drug charges in Fairfax, there may be options available through Virginia’s drug treatment court system. You should speak to an attorney about your case and about your eligibility for a court-based drug treatment program.
Drug Treatment Courts Emphasize Rehabilitation
In creating the Drug Treatment Court Act (Virginia Code § 18.2-254.1), Virginia lawmakers recognized the need for workable programs that actually are effective in reducing drug addiction, substance abuse, and future drug crimes. The drug treatment program focuses heavily on rehabilitation. As explained by Virginia’s Judicial System, drug treatment courts differ from traditional courts in four important ways:
- The Commonwealth uses a more collaborative and cooperative approach;
- The defendant is proactively monitored through the process, including undergoing frequent drug testing;
- Drug treatment is personalized to meet the unique needs of each person; and
- Sanctions for relapse or failure to comply are handled in a graduated manner.
Who Can Enter a Drug Treatment Court in Virginia?
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, each drug treatment court has some discretion in creating its own eligibility standards. As such, entry into a drug treatment court will be handled on a case-by-case basis. That being said, many offenders are eligible for entry into drug treatment programs. As an example of the basic standards that are used, Henrico County’s drug treatment court has the following four eligibility requirements:
- The defendant must reside in the region;
- The defendant must get approval from the prosecution;
- The defendant cannot have a history of violent crimes or drug trafficking; and
- The defendant must resolve all outstanding charges.
How Does the Process Work?
As a starting point, a defendant must plead guilty in order to enter a drug treatment court. In some cases, this is the best path forward for a first time drug offender—particularly if the prosecution has evidence to obtain a conviction should the case go to trial. From there, the drug treatment court program will usually last somewhere between twelve months and eighteen months. When the defendant gets through the process successfully—meaning passing drug tests, attending treatment, etc.—they are typically eligible to get their charges reduced or dismissed outright.
Call Our Virginia Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Today
At Whitestone Young, P.C., our Fairfax criminal defense lawyer has extensive experience handling a wide range of drug charges. If you have questions about Virginia’s drug treatment courts, please do not hesitate to contact our Fairfax office for a free, strictly confidential consultation. We represent defendants in Fairfax and throughout the region.