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Understanding Florida’s drug court

In 1989, the state of Florida established the first-ever drug court in the U.S. According to the Florida Courts, there are now 98 such programs across the state, 47 of which are targeted at adults charged with felony drug offenses. Other drug courts are for people accused of misdemeanors, for juveniles or for people facing impaired driving charges.

Drug courts give people accused of certain crimes an alternative to jail and standard criminal consequences. Instead of taking a purely punitive approach, they adopt a non adversarial stance and seek to provide help for people with substance abuse or addiction problems. As such, the process for people who enter a drug court generally involves treatment for drug or alcohol abuse along with education to help people in their recovery.

Ongoing monitoring and testing for any unauthorized substance use during the course of the drug court period is also included. Families Against Mandatory Minimums explains that not everyone accused of a felony drug crime may qualify for drug court. There are clear requirements that must be met and one of those is the lack of any prior felony drug offenses. If a person is accused of a crime in which violence was a part, he or shy may not be eligible for drug court.

Offenses involving the possesion or puchase of a controlled substance that are classified as second degree felonies or third degree felonies may be able to meet the drug court criteria. Also potentially eligible may be persons shown to have actual substance abuse problems.

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