Drug Courts

What is a Drug Court?

Drug Courts are specially designed court calendars that provide an alternative to traditional criminal justice prosecution for non violent drug-related offenses. These courts combine close judicial oversight and monitoring with probation supervision and substance abuse treatment services.

The goals of these programs are:

  1. reduce recidivism and substance abuse among substance abusing offenders and
  2. increase the offender's likelihood of successful rehabilitation.

Using collaborative court principles (California's Collaborative Justice Courts, pg. 14), drug courts serve as a catalyst to modify traditional treatment-delivery systems to design more effective interventions for addressing problems of addiction and recidivism.

Adult drug courts provide access to treatment for substance-abusing offenders in criminal, dependency, and family courts while minimizing the use of incarceration. They provide a structure for linking supervision and treatment with ongoing judicial oversight and team management.

The majority of drug courts include initial intensive treatment services with ongoing monitoring and continuing care for a year or more. Dependency drug courts address substance abuse issues that contribute to removal of children from the care of their parents. Drug courts in family court address the impact of substance abuse on child custody and visitation.

California Drug Court Standards

The Judicial Council adopted California Rule of Court Standard 4.10 of the California Standards of Judicial Administration, Guidelines for Diversion Drug Court Programs, effective January 1, 1998, which provides clarification specifically for pre-plea diversion drug courts under Penal Code section 1000.5. (A pre-plea diversion program allows criminal proceedings to be suspended while the defendant participates in a program involving counseling, drug testing, education, or other requirements. If the defendant successfully completes the program, the criminal charges may be dismissed.)

In addition to these minimum standards, courts are encouraged to look to the nationally accepted guidelines developed by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) Defining Drug Courts: The Key Components, which elaborate on drug courts' purpose and performance measurements.

Drug Court Resources

More Collaborative Justice Court Resources