Court Programs - Seminole Drug Court


SEMINOLE COUNTY ADULT DRUG COURT PROGRAM

MISSION

The mission of the Seminole County Adult Drug Court is to unite the judiciary, criminal justice entities, substance abuse treatment providers, and the community into a single program that reduces substance abuse by nonviolent offenders, restores them to law abiding productivity while lessening the fiscal impact on society.

PROGRAM HISTORY

The Drug Court concept is based on an innovative program that was first developed in Dade County (Miami, Florida) in 1989. Other types of problem-solving courts followed in the 1990’s to assist individuals with specific needs and problems that were not or could not be adequately addressed in traditional courts. Problem-solving courts use the drug court model to help address specific issues that will benefit the individual, victim, and society. The specific issues may include, but are not limited to, drug abuse, mental illness, veterans' issues, and domestic violence.In 2001, the Florida State Legislature stated its intent that Drug Courts be implemented “in each judicial circuit in an effort to reduce crime and recidivism, abuse and neglect cases, and family dysfunction by recognizing that the integration of judicial supervision, treatment, accountability, and sanctions greatly increases the effectiveness of substance abuse treatment.” Even though drug courts originated in 1989 in Dade County, there had not been any movement towards the startup of such a specialty court within Seminole County until Judge Gene R. Stephenson was transferred to the Civil Division at the Seminole County Courthouse in 1999.After taking the initiative to talk to other Drug Court judges across the state, Judge Stephenson, along with a visionary group of justice professionals, decided that the system as it existed, was broken and there had to be a better way to break the cycle of addiction which is the most predominant cause of cases entering the justice system. A public steering committee convened in order to develop the guidelines needed to establish a program in Seminole County and on July 12, 2001, Judge Stephenson presided over the first Seminole County Adult Drug Court docket.Today, there are over 2,700 Drug Courts or related specialty courts operating in the U.S. and its territories. There are currently 95 Drug Court programs in Florida operating in the felony, misdemeanor, juvenile delinquency, and family dependency divisions of the various judicial circuits.

TARGET POPULATION

Participants are Seminole County residents, 18 years or older, whose current charge is a non-violent felony and who have been diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder as their primary condition. The program/project serves two populations: 1) first-time felony offenders in a Tier- One Pre-Trial Intervention track and 2) offenders who have been arrested more than once and show evidence of a significant substance abuse problem. Excluded from participation are serious offenses and prior or current violent or criminal felony offenses relating to drug trafficking and importation.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR THE REGULAR ADULT DRUG COURT PROGRAM

(for defendants will significant substance abuse issues):

  • The defendant must have a serious substance abuse problem requiring treatment. A substance abuse assessment by the program’s authorized evaluator is required.
  • Must be a Seminole County resident, have a drug-free stable place to reside, and reliable transportation.
  • Must be mentally capable of benefitting from the Adult Drug Court and possess the motivation to complete the program.
  • All cases must be approved by the State Attorney’s Office. Individuals charged with first time possession or purchase of a controlled substance are eligible to apply for acceptance into the program.
  • Individuals who are charged with, or who have a prior record of, sale or delivery of a controlled substance or possession with intent to sell or deliver a controlled substance are not eligible for Adult Drug Court.
  • Individuals who are charged with any other 2nd or 3rd degree felony may request the State Attorney review their case for consideration for the program. Factors which will be used to determine acceptance include the facts of the current case, victim consent, and prior record.
  • Violation of Probation or Community Control cases are eligible for acceptance.
  • Participants are required to pay the program fee of $1,000.00, any restitution applicable, any cost of investigation applicable, and $100.00 per case cost of prosecution.

Persons entering the program are required to enter a plea and their sentences are deferred until the completion of the program. Upon entering the program each individual is placed under the supervision of the Department of Corrections/State Probation, for a period of 12 to 18 months in order to monitor them while in the program.All Adult Drug Court participants must complete substance abuse treatment that will be delivered in the following four drug court program phases. The length of program phases will vary depending on individual progress. The below guidelines are the minimum requirements:

Phase 1: Stabilization Phase lasts a minimum of 1 month:

  • Mandatory drug testing on Mondays and Fridays with random urinalysis on all other days
  • Attend 3 group therapy sessions per week
  • Attend 1 monthly individual session with assigned Substance Abuse Treatment Counselor
  • Attend court sessions bi-weekly
  • Maintain court-approved housing
  • Attend 1 monthly office meeting with Probation Officer
  • Indicate an initial understanding of substance abuse treatment
  • Enroll and attend 4 self-help or NA/AA programs per week (NA=Narcotics Anonymous, AA=Alcoholics Anonymous)
  • 20 consecutive clean urine days needed before consideration for promotion to the next phase

Phase 2: Intensive Treatment usually lasts a minimum of 3 months:

  • Weekly random urinalysis
  • Attend 2 group therapy sessions per week
  • Attend 1 monthly individual session with assigned Substance Abuse Treatment Counselor
  • Attend court sessions bi-weekly
  • Locate/maintain court-approved employment, training and/or education
  • Maintain court-approved housing
  • Begin paying towards program fees
  • Attend 1 monthly office meeting with Probation Officer
  • Indicate an appropriate understanding of recovery principles
  • Enroll and attend 3 self-help or NA/AA programs per week
  • 45 consecutive clean urine days needed before consideration for promotion to the next phase

Phase 3: Relapse Prevention usually lasts a minimum of 6 months:

  • Weekly random urinalysis
  • Attend 1 group therapy sessions per week
  • Attend 1 monthly individual session with assigned Substance Abuse Treatment Counselor
  • Attend 1 court session per month
  • Maintain court-approved employment, training and/or education
  • Maintain court-approved housing
  • Complete payment of program fees in full
  • Attend 1 monthly office meeting with Probation Officer
  • Indicate an appropriate understanding of a recovery lifestyle
  • Attend a 3 self-help or NA/AA programs per week
  • 120 consecutive clean urine days needed before consideration for promotion to the next phase

Phase 4: Community Transition period usually lasts a minimum of 2 months:

  • Weekly random urinalysis
  • Attend 1 group therapy sessions per month
  • Attend 1 monthly individual session with assigned Substance Abuse Treatment Counselor
  • Attend 1 court session per month
  • Maintain court-approved employment, training and/or education
  • Maintain court-approved housing
  • Attend 1 monthly office meeting with Probation Officer
  • Indicate an appropriate understanding of community transition
  • Attend 2 self-help or NA/AA programs per week
  • Continue clean urine days until graduation

Once completion has taken place, the plea is withdrawn and the charges are Nolle Prossed by the State Attorney, which states that they are essentially, dismissed.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR TIER-ONE/FIRST-TIME OFFENDERS PROGRAM

includes the following criteria:

  • Must not have significant addiction issues. A substance abuse assessment by the program’s authorized evaluator is required.
  • Must be a Seminole County resident, have a drug-free stable place to reside, and reliable transportation.
  • Must be mentally capable of benefitting from the Tier One program and possess the motivation to complete its requirements.
  • 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 felony convictions.
  • No previous admission to a felony pretrial program.
  • No more than one prior misdemeanor conviction.
  • 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.

All Tier-One participants must complete the following components:

  • 6-week Drug Education Class
  • STD Awareness Class
  • Life Skills Assessment and any recommended training
  • Case Management
  • Monthly Probation Supervision
  • Random Urinalysis
  • Mandatory Court Appearance
  • Pay all program fees:
  • $1,000.00 Tier One Program Fee
  • $100.00 Cost of Prosecution
  • Four (4) percent surcharge to the Department of Corrections
  • Twenty-five (25) hours Community Service.
  • Pay cost of investigation, if any
  • Restitution is required, if applicable.

Upon full completion of the 6-12 month Tier One Drug Court program, the felony charge(s) will be dismissed by the State of Florida.For further information, please contact the Adult Drug Court Program Office:

Anthony A. Warren
Seminole County Adult Drug Court Coordinator
Criminal Justice Center, 3rd FL
101 Bush Boulevard
Sanford, FL 32773
Phone: (407) 665-4966     Fax: (407) 665-4932
anthony.warren@flcourts18.org