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How long does the juvenile drug court program take?

Drug courts are often used for juvenile offenders, and they typically offer alternatives to jail time. Instead, they focus on rehab. These programs are used, in most cases, when the young people are non-violent offenders who have been accused of possessing drugs for their own personal use, not for sales and distribution.

The first thing a lot of offenders -- and their parents -- are wondering when admitted into the program is how long it will take. The answer is not simple. For every offender, a custom plan can be made that addresses that person's needs and requirements.

Generally speaking, though, it's going to take anywhere from six to 12 months. Assessments may be made along the way, and this time-frame can then change.

There are many factors in play that change the overall times. For example, in some cases, the real problem is that the young person is becoming addicted to the substances that are being used; with marijuana, this may be known as "marijuana use disorder", which is slightly different than standard addiction. That dependence has to be broken, and that's not easy to do. It takes time and everyone is different.

That's one of the reasons that drug courts are so effective. They actually focus on what has caused the young person to break the law and they try to correct that root issue, rather than just locking the person up and then releasing him or her back into the same situation.

If you're interested in using the drug court system in Tampa, make sure you know what legal steps have to be followed -- such as how you need to plead in court and where to petition for inclusion in the drug treatment program.

Source: Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Hillsborough County, "FAQs," accessed July 15, 2016

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