Florida Drug Court Programs
What Are Drug Court Programs?
Drug court is a voluntary diversion and treatment program that allows eligible participants to avoid adjudication for drug charges, receive treatment for substance abuse problems, and become a productive member of society who is armed with the tools and knowledge necessary to remain drug-free. Florida Drug Court programs allow qualified defendants the opportunity to avoid prosecution for drug charges, recover from substance abuse addiction, and become a productive member of society. All drug court treatment programs typically have the following overarching goals:
- Reduce recidivism rates
- Reduce substance use
- Rehabilitate participants
In 1989, the 11th Judicial Circuit (representing Miami-Dade County) was the first court system in the country to set up a drug court program. Miami-Dade Country Drug Court is an optional diversionary and treatment program for eligible arrestees who have been charged with drug offenses. For participants who successfully complete the program, their case may be dismissed or get their adjudication withheld in lieu of prosecution.
The three main components of Drug Court Miami are:
- Early identification of appropriate candidates
- Diversion from the ordinary course of prosecution
- Rehabilitation of defendants with intensive supervision by the Drug Court judge and treatment specialists
Regardless of location or target population, most drug court programs follow the same comprehensive drug court model which includes:
- Offender assessment
- Judicial interaction
- Monitoring (e.g. drug testing)
- Graduated sanctions and incentives
- Treatment services
If you have been charged with a drug offense, it is strongly recommended that you hire an experienced drug defense lawyer who is well-versed in Florida drug laws and drug court programs. Yale Galanter and his team of skilled lawyers at the South Florida criminal defense law firm of Galanter Law will work tirelessly to have your drug charge reduced or dismissed, where possible. In addition, your lawyer will help you decide whether entering a drug court program is in your best interests, help you gain admission to a drug court program, advocate on your behalf at drug court proceedings, and help you clean your criminal record after you successfully graduate from drug court.
Who Is Eligible for Miami-Dade County Drug Court?
To be eligible to participate in a Florida Drug Court program, Florida Statute §948.08(6)(a) provides that an arrestee must be charged with a nonviolent felony and identified as having a substance abuse problem or having a second or third-degree felony charge for the purchase or possession of a controlled substance, prostitution, tampering with evidence, solicitation for the purchase of a controlled substance, or obtaining a prescription by fraud. If the arrestee is charged with a crime involving violence or has been previously convicted of a felony, then they are ineligible for admission into the court’s drug court program.
Florida drug court programs may also set their own specific eligibility requirements and guidelines. For example, while the majority of Florida Drug Court programs are only open to first-time offenders, some programs such as the Palm Beach Drug Court program allow certain qualified individuals with multiple prior convictions to participate.
Generally, Florida Drug Court programs last for at least twelve months and require participants to:
- Undergo inpatient or outpatient treatment
- Attend individual or group counseling sessions
- Attend sober fellowship meetings
- Submit to frequent urinalysis drug screens
- Attend regular status hearings before their drug court judge
- Participate in other required rehabilitative and therapeutic activities
What Does the Miami-Dade County Drug Court Program Entail?
If an arrestee is eligible for Drug Court and chooses to participate in the program, their drug court judge will order them to participate in the Diversion and Treatment Program (DATP), a county-funded inpatient drug treatment program, or an alternate drug treatment program depending on the individual’s ability to pay. Drug court participants are generally required to submit to a urinalysis drug screen twice per week, attend Twelve Step Fellowship meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, and oftentimes participate in individual counseling, group counseling, acupuncture, and a relapse prevention program.
If a participant successfully completes the required one-year treatment program and does not need further monitoring or case management services, then their treatment counselor will recommend a discharge from the program to the drug court judge, who will ultimately decide whether the participant should “graduate” from the program.
In addition to completing the one-year treatment program, the participant must also satisfy the following requirements to graduate:
- Demonstrate insight into recovery
- Be gainfully employed
- Attend school
- Receive vocational training if capable to do so
- Be “clean” for a minimum of 6 months without any sanctions
- Pay all fees to the court and program
Is a Florida Drug Court Program Right for Me?
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a drug offense in Miami-Dade County, it is critical to hire our Miami drug court lawyer Galanter Law, P.A. who is well-versed in Florida drug laws and diversionary programs such as the Miami-Dade Country Drug Court program. We obtain substantial experience in representing individuals convicted of drug offenses and helping them navigate Florida’s Drug Court system. As such, you can depend on us to thoroughly evaluate your situation and explain your options while guiding you through the process.
For your information, the Miami-Dade County Drug Court is located at:
Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building
1351 NW 12th St., Courtroom 4-4
Miami, FL 33135