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FAQ – How Colorado Drug Courts Work – Example – The Denver Colorado Drug Court

Introduction – Drug courts are specialized court docket programs that target criminal defendants and offenders, juvenile offenders, and parents with pending child welfare cases who have alcohol and other drug dependency problems.

In Colorado and throughout the USA, drug courts vary in target population and resources, programs are most often  managed by a multidisciplinary team including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, community corrections, social workers and treatment service professionals.

Adult drug courts employ a program designed to reduce drug use relapse and criminal recidivism among defendants and offenders through risk and needs assessment, judicial interaction, monitoring and supervision, graduated sanctions and incentives, treatment and various rehabilitation services

How The Drug Court Works In Denver

The Offer of Drug Court By The Denver DA

The Denver District Attorney’s Drug Unit reviews all adult felony drug arrests in Denver within 48 hours of an offender’s arrest. The D.A.’s Drug Unit first determines if the case is acceptable for filing, and if so, what charges will be filed. Then a determination is made as to whether an offender is eligible for Drug Court based on the established criteria.

Individuals eligible for drug court are those first-time offenders accused of possessing small amounts of illegal drugs for personal use.

There are a number of things that may cause a person to be ineligible for participation in Drug Court.

This includes:

• charges for the possession of more than 25 grams of a controlled substance with an intention to sell previous conviction of any acts instrumental in causing serious bodily injury or death previous convictions of any felony offense involving the use, possession, or threatened use of a deadly weapon previous convictions of any criminal offense, the underlying factual basis of which involved a sex-related criminal offense those whose criminal history, correctional performance or treatment diagnosis demonstrate a history of violent behavior or unsuitability for Drug Courtthose who reside outside the Denver metro area

  • those with no demonstrated substance abuse problems
  • those currently on parole

The Denver District Attorney’s office reserves the right to exclude any offender from Drug Court and also reserves the right to recommend an offender for participation in Drug Court who may otherwise be excluded.

If You Are Accepted

If the offender is accepted, their second advisement is scheduled in front of a Drug Court Magistrate and the offender is given the opportunity to plead guilty and be sentenced. Following sentencing, the offender is placed under the supervision of the Denver District Court Probation Department for felony pleas or the Denver County Court Probation Department for misdemeanor pleas. If the offender is in custody at the time of sentencing, the Drug Court Magistrate orders the offender’s release from custody to probation the next day.

After conviction, every offender within the Drug Court program must move through three phases of supervision. Upon successful completion of all three phases, the offender graduates from Drug Court. Offenders who fail to comply with the terms and conditions of the supervision suffer sanctions and/or a revocation of their probation.

It is the policy of the DA’s Office to use in-court admissions of alcohol and drug usage by Drug Court offenders and positive urine screening results only to impose sanctions in the Drug Court case. Such admissions are  not be used by the District Attorneys’ Office to file new charges.

Participants in Denver’s Drug Court work hard to successfully complete a series of phases lead toward graduation.

The Phases of Drug Court

Every offender participating in Denver’s Drug Court must complete a series of three phases to become eligible for graduation.

Phase One

•The offender submits a minimum of eight to ten urine screens a month

•The offender participates in a treatment program as determined by a previously arranged assessment or as deemed appropriate by probation or the Drug Court Magistrate

•The offender appears in Drug Court for review hearings as scheduled

•The offender meets with a probation officer as scheduled

•The offender meets with the Collections Investigator and completes a repayment plan within the first 30 days of Phase One.

To move from Phase One to Phase Two

•The offender must have 90 consecutive days of clean urine analyses

•The offender must have no missed urine screens for 60 consecutive days

•The offender must have a payment plan in use

•The offender must be in compliance with the treatment program

•The offender must be in compliance with the terms and conditions of his or her probation

•The Drug Court Magistrate will advance the offender to Phase Two consistent with the goals of the Drug Court

Phase Two

•The offender submits a minimum of four to five urine screens a month

•The offender participates in a treatment program as previously determined

•The offender appears in Drug Court for review hearings as scheduled

•The offender is in compliance with the terms and conditions of his or her probation.

•The offender begins making payments as outlined in the payment plan established by the Collections Investigator

•The offender begins working on community service hours ordered by the Drug Court Magistrate

To move from Phase Two to Phase Three

•The offender must have 90 consecutive days of clean urine screens

•The offender must have no missed urine screens for 60 days

•The offender must be in compliance with established payment plan

•The offender must be in compliance with treatment program

•The offender must be enrolled in a community service program

•The Drug Court Magistrate will advance the offender to Phase Three consistent with the goals of

the Drug Court

Phase Three

•The offender submits to a urine screen two to three times a month

•If still required, the offender participates in a treatment program

•The offender appears in Drug Court for review hearings as scheduled

•The offender is current on all ordered costs and fees ordered by the Drug Court Magistrate

•The offender completes all ordered community services hours

•The offender is in compliance with probation reporting requirements

•The Drug Court Magistrate graduates the offender consistent with the goals of the Drug Court

Requirements for graduation

•The offender must have 120 consecutive days of clean urine screens

•The offender must have no missed urine screens for 120 consecutive days

•The offender must be in compliance with the payment plan

•The offender must have his or her treatment program completed

•The offender must have his or her community service hours completed

Graduation

•Upon completion of the requirements established for graduation from Drug Court, a structured ceremony is held in honor of the participants. Friends and family members of the offender are invited to attend the graduation, where the offender receives a Certificate of Graduation and is offered the opportunity to address those in attendance. Following the graduation, offenders are required to meet with their probation officer to fulfill post-graduation matters.

Sanctions and Incentives

Frequent judicial contact with each offender is a primary emphasis in Drug Court. At each review hearing scheduled before a Drug Court Magistrate, the magistrate is provided with written or verbal reports of the offender’s progress. Offenders are granted the opportunity to respond to the probation officer’s report. At these reviews, the Drug Court Magistrate may impose sanctions for non-compliance or offer rewards for compliance and sobriety. If an offender is having particular problems with compliance, the Drug Court Magistrate may increase the frequency of reviews.

At review hearings scheduled as part of the program, the Drug Court Magistrate reviews any allegations of non-compliance as presented by probation officers. The magistrate then selects the appropriate sanction based on the violation and the offender’s history of compliance.

Sanctions can include:

•Reprimand and warning by the Magistrate

•Custody in the courtroom for the balance of that session

•Attendance of a Drug Court graduation

•Suspension of travel privileges

•Increased community service hours

•Regression in phases

•Increased urine screenings

•Increased treatment

•Relapse prevention classes

•Delay in phase change or starting phase over

•Immediate court appearance with probation officer for immediate sanction

•Saturday work program

•Attendance in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous group over and above the current ordered treatment program

•Placement in the SCRAM program

•Suspended jail sentence

•Home detention through EHM

•Jail sentence

Incentives

Incentives are offered by the Drug Court Magistrate at the review hearings for offenders. Intended to reward offenders for program compliance, the basis for each incentive is discussed with the offender.

Incentives can include:

•praise, encouragement and clapping

•swift progression through each phase of the program, accomplished by scheduling review hearings as soon as possible after the time when a phase is completed

•Fish bowl drawings in open court for prizes, coupons, gift certificates, etc.

•Progress chips for phase changes

•Early call at review hearings for 100 percent club

•10 dollars per hour credit on fines and costs for extra community service hours

•Fee reductions for completion of in-patient programs

•Fee reductions for educational and/or job training programs.

 

 


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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
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