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What is drug court in New York?

On Behalf of | May 26, 2024 | Criminal Defense

New York’s drug courts are an alternative to incarceration for some defendants facing drug-related charges. This program works to address the underlying causes that are contributing to the criminal behavior through a treatment-based method instead of incarceration.

Drug courts can reduce recidivism and substance abuse by providing participants with the tools they need to achieve sobriety, but they’re only appropriate for those who are willing to fully embrace treatment. The program uses court oversight, treatment programs and community service to provide a structured environment that can teach defendants how to embrace recovery and reduce the chance of future criminal activity.

Who’s eligible for drug court?

Eligibility for participation in a drug court program varies by jurisdiction. Common eligibility requirements include:

  • Facing non-violent, substance abuse-related charges
  • Having a history of substance abuse or addiction
  • Demonstrating a willingness to participate in the program and comply with its requirements

Some drug courts may also consider the severity of the addiction, the nature of the criminal offense and the individual’s prior criminal history when determining eligibility.

What’s the program like?

New York’s drug court programs typically follow a multi-phase structure, designed to gradually increase participants’ responsibilities and independence as they progress through the program. They undergo a thorough assessment to determine the extent of their substance abuse issues and to develop a tailored treatment plan.

Participants engage in intensive treatment, which may include individual and group counseling, detoxing, residential treatment and other therapeutic interventions. Regular court appearances and drug testing are required to monitor progress and ensure compliance.

As participants demonstrate progress in their recovery, they transition to less intensive treatment and begin focusing on stabilizing their lives. This phase may include outpatient treatment, vocational training, educational programs and efforts to rebuild family and community relationships.

Individuals facing drug charges who are interested in drug court should determine if this is an option in their case as early in the process as possible. It may behoove them to work with an attorney who’s familiar with these cases so they can decide if this is the best defense strategy for their needs.