Florida’s Drug Court is an exciting institution that aims to reduce the number of first-time drug offenders in jail or prison. However, as with most aspects of our legal system, it isn’t always easy to understand who may be eligible for Florida Drug Court and what the requirements are for participants. To help, we’ve gathered some common questions about Florida’s drug court system and done our best to answer them.
For more information about Florida Drug Courts, contact a skilled Tampa defense attorney with experience using Florida’s Drug Courts to help accused individuals.
What is Florida’s Drug Court?
To reduce the number of individuals incarcerated and to aid in rehabilitation, the state of Florida instituted a drug court system that focuses on addiction treatment rather than incarceration. By providing treatment to first-time, nonviolent offenders, the state hopes to reduce recidivism and help provide certain defendants with an opportunity to regain control of their lives.
Florida was the first state to institute a drug court system in 1989, and other states have followed suit after seeing the results.
How Does Drug Court Work in Florida?
Drug court is not an easy out. It has strict requirements that must be fulfilled in order to complete it successfully. Defendants who qualify to have their cases moved to drug court will be tasked with completing a course of treatment that generally lasts at least one year. This involves both individual and group counseling, drug testing throughout the treatment process, and participation in support groups in addition to regular meetings with a probation officer and case reviews with a judge.
At the start of the prescribed treatment, participants spend around 9 hours a week in drug court activities. Through the course of treatment, this time commitment is reduced as participants are believed to have more tools and abilities to help them cope with their addiction.
Are All Florida Drug Courts the Same?
Florida has multiple drug court systems to aid different parts of the population.
In the 13th Judicial Circuit, which encompasses Hillsborough County, there is a Juvenile Drug Court, Adult Drug Pretrial Intervention Court, Adult Post Adjudication, Family Dependency Treatment Court, Marchman Act Drug Treatment Court, and a Veterans Treatment Court.
Juvenile Drug Court helps address the issue of youth addiction by allowing individuals arrested or processed through the Juvenile Assessment Center to enter into drug addiction treatment while still working towards completing their education.
The Adult Drug Pretrial Intervention Court and the Post Adjudication Court are the courts this page reference as they are the most relevant for our clients.
Family Dependency Treatment Court aims to help parents overcome addiction so they can regain custody of their children.
Marchman Act Drug Treatment Court allows families to seek help for their loved ones. They may petition the court to have their loved one assessed and treated for addiction if appropriate. Those looking for how to get court-ordered rehab in Florida may find the Marchman Act a valuable tool.
Veterans Treatment Court serves veterans who are suffering from PTSD or other service-related mental illnesses, traumatic brain injury, or addiction. For more information about whether Veterans Treatment Court is an option for you, contact Mike G Law.
Who Can Use Florida’s Drug Courts?
Florida Statute 948.08 states that to be eligible for admission into the Pretrial Intervention Court, a defendant must meet the following requirements:
- Is identified as having a substance abuse problem and is amenable to treatment.
- Is charged with a nonviolent felony.
- Has never been charged with a crime involving violence, including, but not limited to, murder, sexual battery, robbery, carjacking, home-invasion robbery, or any other crime involving violence.
- Has two or fewer felony convictions, provided that the prior convictions are for nonviolent felonies.
Defendants who have previously rejected the opportunity to use the drug court system or who are believed to be involved in drug trafficking may be excluded from the program. If you aren’t sure whether you’d qualify, contact a skilled drug court lawyer today.
What Happens if a Drug Test Comes Back Positive?
Addiction is hard to beat. Thankfully, the state recognizes this, and while one positive drug test won’t get a defendant removed from the program, it may lead to more intense treatment. Repeated offenses may lead to the reclassification of the case and removal from the drug court system. This means that the case will go through typical criminal court channels.
What Happens When You Don’t Show Up for Drug Court in Florida?
Failing to show up for drug court may put your case in jeopardy. Court dates are an important part of treatment and allow the judge to monitor your progress. Because beating addiction is tough, however, there is some leniency built into the system. Missing one court date will likely not get you expelled from the program (though it could). It is more likely that you will be given more intensive treatment options, especially if you miss a court date because of a relapse.
What Happens to Your Record When You Complete Florida Drug Court?
Completion of drug court will lead to the charges against you being dropped. This will not erase any previous charges or convictions you have on your record.
How Does Court-Ordered Drug Testing in Florida Work?
For drug court, participants are required to undergo urinalysis randomly to ensure you maintain your sobriety.
How Long Will I Have to Wait After Drug Court to Get My Record Expunged in Florida?
After successfully completing treatment and all court requirements, the charges against you will be dropped. Note that this is not an expungement. Your record will show your arrest, though you will not have a conviction against you.
For the latest information on Florida Drug Courts, make sure to contact Mike G Law. Mike G can help you navigate the system and provide you with the help you need to get the best possible outcome. Ultimately, Florida’s drug court isn’t for everyone. Consult a skilled Tampa defense attorney to learn more about your options so you can make an informed choice.