Drug Court: Drug addictions and the criminal justice system

One of the programs used in the New Jersey court system is Drug Court. Participants in this program have a moderate to severe drug abuse problem. Trying to treat the drug abuse is one way that the court might be able to reduce the likelihood of the person reoffending.

Drug Court isn't available for everyone. Instead, there is specific criteria for who is eligible. The person must not have any violent offenses and must pass a clinical assessment for dependence on drugs or alcohol. The program isn't easy, but it may have singificant benefits.

Phased progress

There are four distinct phases to the New Jersey Drug Court program. With each new level, the person has a little oversight. There are goals for each phase, including self-help meeting attendance and drug treatment, that must be met. All program goals must be met before the person can graduate.

In the beginning, the person reports weekly. With each phase, the length of time between reporting sessions extends. The full program is meant to be finished in two years, but it can take a bit longer if the person has setbacks.

Random drug tests

A person in Drug Court will have frequent drug tests. These are done via urinalysis, which can be collected during a home visit, at a court appearance, or at the probation office. Some participants will have to report in for random drug tests within a specific amount of time after being instructed to come in for a test.


One of the primary requirements of drug court is that the person remains sober. Having anything show up on a drug screen could lead to them getting kicked out of the program. All participants need to find a job or go to school. Some do both. The supervising officer and judge will determine exactly what a person must do.

Positive outcome

One thing that fuels some participants is that they are eligible to have their criminal record expunged. There are some limitations to this so you should speak with your attorney if you are concerned about what is possible in your case. Typically, you can have drug charges expunged when you complete the program successfully. This can help you find a better job and suitable housing upon completion of the program.

Drug Court is only one of the possible resolutions that might apply to your case. Ensure that you carefully consider all defense options so you can choose the one that is in your best interests.

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