Since 1989, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida has offered drug offenders the opportunity to avoid prosecution, become drug free and improve the quality of their life through Miami-Dade County’s Drug Court Program. Drug Court is a volunteer diversion and treatment program that identifies a defendant who has a substance abuse problem by redirecting them from the ordinary course of prosecution through intensive supervision by the presiding judge and rehabilitation through treatment specialists for a minimum of one year.
After successfully completing the treatment program and when monitoring or case management services are no longer needed, the treatment counselor will recommend that the judge discharge the case. The judge will make the final decision. Both the treatment counselor and the judge will examine the participants’ overall recovery, including progress in academic and vocational activities. During the final Court appearance, clients “graduate” and are released from Court supervision. Upon graduating, qualified clients may file to “expunge” their arrest record. This is a significant benefit for future employment and career opportunities. First-time offenders will have their case nolle prosequi (no prosecution) and their records may be sealed or expunged. For other offenders, the case may be dismissed or adjudication is withheld. Most importantly, clients who have a sincere desire to get off drugs are offered the opportunity to avoid further problems with the law and free themselves of problems that are caused by substance abuse.
Participation in the Drug Court Program is governed by Florida Statute 948.08(6)(a). Generally, a participant is a person who has been charged with possessing or purchasing drugs. For a person to qualify, the State Attorney must agree to divert the offender away from formal prosecution. Those defendants with a history of violent crimes, arrests for drug sale or trafficking, or have more than two previous non-drug felony convictions are typically ineligible to enroll in the Drug Court Program.
After being arrested, and appearing before the drug court judge, the judge explains the elements of the Drug Court Program. The Program includes regular urine tests, treatment attendance, and more frequent court appearances. The judge will track the client’s urinalysis record and treatment reports. Depending upon the results of the urine test and overall compliance in the program, the judge may choose to be supportive or dispense a sanction, depending on each individual’s progress through the Program. Defendants who refuse or withdraw from the Program are sent back through the Criminal Court process where, if convicted, may serve time in jail. Counselors and the Court exercise a great deal of discretion and flexibility in tailoring treatment plans to meet the needs of each client to optimize individuals’ abilities to successfully progress.
For further information please contact
Drug Court Coordinator
Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, Room 103,
1351 N.W. 12th Street,
Miami FL 33125