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A primer on drug courts in the state of Virginia

A drug arrest should always be taken seriously because depending on the charges the consequences for a conviction can be serious. While some people who face this situation may end up in jail or prison for a time, this is not necessarily the way a matter will be resolved. A proper defense could result in a not guilty verdict, a reduction in charges or in some cases even a dismissal. Depending on the circumstances surrounding a drug arrest, drug court may be an option as well.

Drug court first appeared in the state of Virginia in 1997 as a pilot program. Since then it has developed into a system of 36 courts throughout the state. The courts are broken down as follows:

  • 4 family courts.
  • 2 regional courts.
  • 8 juvenile courts.
  • 22 adult courts.

The idea behind the program is that it will help addicts kick the problem and stay out of the criminal justice system. There are certain requirements that must be met to be accepted into the program. Those who repeatedly violate probation due to drug addiction are who the program was designed to assist. Those who participate in one drug court program in the state are provided:

  • Mental-health counseling.
  • Probation supervision.
  • Substance-abuse treatment.

In addition to helping people, it also saves the court system money. According to a study conducted by the National Center for State Courts that looked at 12 of the drug courts in the state, per person, $19,234 is saved as compared to when individuals are prosecuted through the traditional system.

Even if drug court is not a possibility following an arrest it is possible that there are other ways to decrease the severity of the consequences of a drug crime arrest. A criminal defense lawyer is in the best position to determine what those options are.

Source: Virginia Drug Court Association, “Richmond Drug Court Celebrates 15 Years,” Accessed Oct. 2, 2014

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