With drug-related offenses, people generally face penalties including fines and jail time. For those struggling with substance abuse, however, consequences such as these do not always help prevent recidivism.
The Pennsylvania drug court program combines criminal consequences with treatment to help people move past their addictions.
Not everyone charged with drug crimes goes through this alternative program. According to the Dauphin County Drug Court, those facing drug-related charges must have a referral to the program, volunteer to participate and meet certain eligibility criteria. Eligible participants must:
- Reside in Dauphin County
- Be at least 18-years-old
- Receive a diagnosis or meet the criteria for a substance abuse disorder
Additionally, the program is only open to people who are currently serving a sentence in county prison, undergoing probation supervision or awaiting their preliminary hearings.
Depending on varying factors, the court will assign participants to one of four tracks. Whatever the track, the program lasts at least 26 months. Participants will progress through intensive phases by meeting the requirements and benchmarks. For example, this includes attending treatment appointments and court hearings and submitting to random drug testing.
According to the Dauphin County Drug Court, violating the terms of the program carries consequences. Actions such as missing appointments, being dishonest or engaging in drug use may give grounds for sanctions. The repercussions participants face for violations of the program terms range from verbal warnings to termination of their participation in the program.
Sometimes people’s run-ins with the law result from substance abuse struggles, rather than a desire to commit criminal acts. Those dealing with addiction who face drug charges should ask about their options for rehabilitation through the drug court program.