Drug court is a voluntary diversionary and substance abuse treatment program for eligible arrested individuals who have been charged with drug offenses. There are over 2000 drug court programs in existence or being planned throughout the country, and Florida alone has 101 drug court programs spread out across all 20 of its judicial circuits. Attesting to the past successes of drug court programs, George W. Bush said that, “Drug courts are an effective and cost efficient way to make non-violent drug offenders commit to a rigorous drug treatment program. By leveraging the coercive power of the criminal justice system, drug courts can alter the behavior of non-violent, low-level drug offenders through a combination of judicial supervision, case management, mandatory drug testing and treatment to ensure abstinence from drugs and escalating sanctions.”
Pursuant to Florida Statute §948.08(6)(a), arrestees are only eligible to participate in their county’s drug court program if they meet the following requirements:
• Charged with a nonviolent felony and is identified as having a substance abuse problem or is charged with a felony of the second or third degree for purchase or possession of a controlled substance under Florida Statute chapter 893;
• NOT charged with a violent felony (including, but not limited to, murder, sexual battery, robbery, carjacking, home-invasion robbery, or any other crime involving violence); and
• NOT previously convicted of a felony.
While each drug court program in Florida must adhere to Florida statutory requirements and should maintain fidelity to the drug court model, the specific design and structure of drug court programs are developed locally at the circuit/county court level in order to reflect the specific strengths, weakness, circumstances, and capacity of each community they serve. In addition to an adult drug court, some counties in Florida have other variants of the drug court program including juvenile drugs courts, family dependency drug courts, and DUI drug courts.
Participants in a Florida drug court program most participate in an intensive regimen of substance abuse treatment, regular urinalysis drug testing, case management, supervision and monitoring, and regularly scheduled status meetings with a drug court judge. In addition, some drug court programs in Florida offer programs such as individual counseling, group counseling, acupuncture, transitional housing, and relapse prevention services. Pursuant to Florida Statute §948.08(6)(a), all Florida drug court programs must last for at least 12 months.
For a detailed list of the specific drugs court programs in each judicial circuit in Florida along with links to circuit/county contacts and website, click here.
If you have been charged with a drug offense or a drug court violation in Florida, an experienced Florida drug lawyer such as Yale Galanter and his skilled team of drug defense lawyers will be able to explain your options and do the work necessary to help you avoid possible jail time and steep fines and navigate the Florida drug court system.