The traditional criminal justice system does not always provide the best-suited supervision and consequences for those struggling with drug addiction. To help people overcome the issue, instead of simply punishing them for it, Virginia developed its drug court program.
For addicts facing criminal charges, these alternative court dockets may help them return to a healthy and law-abiding lifestyle.
According to Virginia state law, each local court determines the eligibility requirements for the drug court program in its area. However, juveniles and adults adjudicated or convicted of a violent crime in the past 10 years cannot participate in the program.
According to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, the drug court program typically lasts for one year. It includes three phases, each with distinct goals. During the program, in addition to other requirements, participants must refrain from drinking alcohol and using drugs, except those prescribed by a licensed physician. This includes abstaining from any legal mind- or mood-altering drugs.
Participants exit the drug court program in one of four ways. Those enrolled in the program receive successful terminations when they successfully complete all the necessary requirements and phases. If involvement in the program is no longer practical, such as due to a relocation or a long-term illness, people may receive administrative discharges. Participants who violate program rules receive unsuccessful terminations with a return to the original presiding judge or unsuccessful termination with a formal violation.
Drug addictions often have profound effects on people’s lives. However, options such as the drug court program exist to offer people a path toward facing the consequences of their actions while working toward a healthy recovery.