Court Programs - Seminole Drug Court


MISSION:
The mission of the Seminole County Drug court is to Unite the judiciary, criminal justice entities, substance abuse treatment providers, and the community in a singular program that reduces drug use by non-violent offenders, restores them to law-abiding productivity and lessens the fiscal impact on society. 
 
HISTORY:
Florida started the drug court movement by creating the first treatment-based drug court in the nation in 1989. The drug court concept was developed in Dade County (Miami, Florida) stemming from a federal mandate to reduce the inmate population or suffer the loss of federal funding. The Supreme Court of Florida recognized the severity of the situation and directed Judge Herbert Klein to research the problem. Judge Klein determined that a large majority of criminal inmates had been incarcerated because of drug charges and were revolving back through the criminal justice system because of underlying problems of drug addiction. It was decided that the delivery of treatment services needed to be coupled with the criminal justice system and the need for strong judicial leadership and partnerships to bring treatment services and the criminal justice system together. Ultimately, the model for treatment-based drug courts was born. As of August 2001, Florida had 33 operational and seven planned adult drug courts, 17 operational and four planned juvenile drug court, eight operational and five planned dependency drug courts, and two reentry drug court programs.
 
SEMINOLE DRUG COURT QUALIFICATIONS:
How does a defendant get into drug court?
Candidates must meet the following criteria:
  • Must be a resident of Seminole County.
  • Must have a serious drug/alcohol problem needing treatment.
  • Must be charged with at least one of the following felony drug related charges:
  1. Felony possession of a controlled substance.
  2. Unlawful purchase of a  controlled substance. Manufacture of a controlled substance (in small, non-commercial amounts).
  3. Obtaining a controlled substance by fraud (forged prescription).
  4. Introduction of contraband (drugs) into a correctional facility.
  5. Felony worthless checks (to support drug habit).
  6. Grand Theft (to support drug habit).
  7. Uttering or Forging certain instruments (to support drug habit).
  • Must be mentally capable of benefiting from Drug Court and possess the motivation to complete the program.
  • Must be approved by the State Attorney's Office.
  • Restitution is required if applicable.
  • Violation of Probation Cases are Acceptable.
 
* Defendants with prior violent felonies are NOT eligible.
 
PHASES:
PHASE I - Educational (Approximately 1 Month)
    • 3 Group Therapy sessions per week & individual counseling as needed.
    • 3 weekly supervisory contacts including random urinalysis.
    • 4 NA/AA meetings per week. (NA= Narcotics Anonymous / AA= Alcoholics Anonymous)
    • Bi-weekly court meeting with the judge.
    • 20 consecutive clean urine days needed to advance to Phase II.

PHASE II- Intensive (Approximately 3 Months)
    • Must have entered a plea or signed a Pretrial Intervention contract.
    • 2 group sessions per week & individual counseling sessions as needed.
    • 3 weekly supervisory contacts including random urinalysis.
    • 3 NA/AA meetings per week.
    • Court meeting with judge every other week.
    • 45 additional consecutive clean urine days needed to advance to Phase III.
 
PHASE III- Relapse Prevention (Approximately 6 Months)
  • 1 group therapy session per week & individual counseling sessions as needed.
  • 1 weekly supervisory contacts including one random urinalysis.
  • 3 NA/AA meetings per week.
  • One monthly court meeting with judge.
  • 120 additional consecutive clean urine days needed to advance to Phase IV.
 
PHASE IV- Transition (Approximately 2 Months)
  • 1 group therapy session per month.
  • 1 monthly supervisory contact with random urinalysis as needed.
  • Court meetings with judge as necessary.
 
GRADUATION
  • The program consists of four phases of which when fully completed a Graduation Ceremony is performed. The felony charges or Violation of Probation will be dismissed.
 
* Defendants with prior violent felonies are NOT eligible. 
 
SEMINOLE COUNTY TIER ONE (PTI) FELONY DRUG COURT
The Tier One (PTI) program was established in September 2009 with a three-year federally-funded SAMSHA Grant along with legal and administrative support from the Office of the State Attorney. Prior to April 2009, the State Attorney's Office allowed first time felony offenders, charged with low level drug charges, such as felony drug possession or prescription fraud, who were not in need of intensive outpatient drug treatment were allowed to request pre-adjudication diversion from the criminal justice system though the State Attorney's Office. The State Attorney's Office is no longer accepting these cases for diversion. The Seminole County Adult Drug Court will provide an alternative to the standard criminal court docket. 
 
In 2008, there were seventy-two (72) cases filed with low level felony drug counts where the defendants were found eligible and signed a pre-trial diversion agreement and entered the pre-trial intervention program. In the first three months of 2009, twenty-eight (28) similar cases signed pretrial intervention contracts which amortize out to sixty-eight (68) potential participants.
 
Participation in a pre-adjudication diversion program such as a Drug Court for First Time Felony Drug Offenders will assist these first time felony offenders to avoid a criminal record. This will allow participants to become more productive members of society, pursue educational and employment goals and increase the economic and societal well being of the community. Early identification and removal of these low level drug offenses from the normal criminal docket will reduce criminal justice docket caseloads for all members of the criminal justice system freeing time to focus on more serious criminal cases and lowering the overall costs of court operations. In addition to these benefits, breaking the cycle of addiction will lower future law enforcement and societal costs by preventing future crimes. 
 
Funding the Drug Court for First Time Felony Drug Offenders will be used to allow outside agencies to create or retain staff full or part-time positions including:
 
 
  1. a certified addictions professional to perform assessments
  2. one case manager with additional positions as the number of participants increases
  3. a drug education instructor
  4. a treatment provider
  5. personnel to provide urinalysis testing
  6. an HIV/Aids awareness instructor
  7. life skills trainers or instructors.
  8. Additional economic benefits would derive from the purchase of drug and alcohol testing supplies and equipment as well as routine office supplies. In addition, funding would be used to assist with transportation issues such as bus passes, further supporting the local economy. 
 
How does a defendant get into the Tier One (PTI) drug court program?
Candidates must meet the following Criteria:
  • Must be a resident of Seminole County
  • Must not have significant addiction issues
  • Charged with a third degree felony for possession of a controlled substance or a 2nd felony purchase of a controlled substance under Chapter 893
  • No previous admission to a felony pretrial program
  • No more than one prior misdemeanor convictions
  • Must be mentally capable of benefitting from Drug Court and possess the mo motivation to complete the program
  • Restitution is required, if applicable • No violation of probation cases are accepted
  • No evidence of sale of controlled substance in current case or prior felony criminal conviction
  • No DUI charges may be diverted through this program
  • TASC Evaluation is required
  • Must be approved by State Attorney's Office PROGRAM COMPONENTS All participants must complete the following
  • Drug Education Class
  • HIV/AIDS Awareness Class
  • Life Skills Assessment and any recommended training
  • Case Management
  • Supervision Meetings
  • Random Urinalysis
  • Court Appearances
  • Pay all program fees
  • Perform 25 hours Community Service
  • Pay cost of Investigation, if any
  • Upon completion of the program the charges again the defendant will be dismissed by the State. 
 
The standard contract length is 12 months but may vary depending on individual program. The above guidelines are the minimum requirements and may be adjusted on an individual basis as treatment requires.