In the last several years, awareness of the problems related to drug addiction and abuse have contributed to a shift in how some people arrested for drug-related offenses may be treated. The development of special drugs courts represents one outcome of this shift.

As the Arizona Judicial Branch explains, nine drug-specific and three impaired driving courts exist throughout Arizona.

Drug court eligibility

Defendants voluntary participate in a drug court. Only those persons meeting the eligibility criteria have the opportunity to select this path. Eligibility criteria varies but factors reviewed include prior offenses and identified addiction issues. Persons involved in violent or sex crimes may not be able to participate in a drug court. Participants in a drug court generally plead guilty or enter the program following a conviction or other related action.

Drug court philosophy

Yavapai County offers both a drug court and a driving under the influence court. These programs take a therapeutic rather than a punitive approach and aim to stop the cycle of drug addiction. Successful completion of a drug court program may result in the reduction of charges.

A drug court team works collaboratively through the program which lasts at least 14 months. The drug court team includes a treatment provider, a judge, a probation officer, a defense attorney and a prosecuting attorney. While actively in the program, participants must not consume alcohol or use any drugs.

Participants in a drug court program may undergo counseling and other treatment or rehabilitative services. They also learn about drugs and addiction and work to free themselves of the problems posed by addiction.