Drug courts provide nonviolent offenders with an alternative to incarceration. The drug court model is based on the idea that addressing a person's underlying drug addiction through behavior modification can stop the person from committing crimes. Oklahoma first offered drug courts in 1995 and they are now offered in 73 of 77 Oklahoma counties.
Oklahoma law has specific guidelines which all drug courts must follow. However, once the county meets the requirements, they are free to modify the drug courts to meet the needs of the people in the county.
Who is Eligible for Drug Court in Oklahoma?
To be eligible for drug court, a person must meet the following criteria:
1. The person must appear to have a substance abuse problem, or admit to having a substance abuse problem or addiction.
2. The person must be a non-violent offender who does not have a record of past violent offenses. The exception is when there is a program to address domestic violence and the offense is related to domestic violence and substance abuse.
3. The person must not have a prior felony conviction in Oklahoma or another state for a violent offense within the last ten years, except as may be allowed in a domestic violence treatment program authorized by the drug court program.
4. The person must be charged with a felony drug offense that does not include distribution, trafficking or manufacturing controlled substances. Misdemeanor offenses are not eligible for drug court.
Although a person may meet all criteria for drug court, the county is not legally required to offer drug court as an alternative to incarceration. Only nonviolent offenders are eligible for drug court in Oklahoma, but the counties have discretion to limit eligibility even further to specific nonviolent offenses.
How is a Person Referred to Drug Court in Oklahoma?
Each county has its own procedure for referring an offender to drug court. Generally, most counties follow the process established in Oklahoma City (Canadian, Cleveland, and Pottawatomie counties), which begins when the criminal defense lawyer requests the Assistant District Attorney to consider the case. The Assistant District Attorney will review the person's case file, including information for the current case, all pending cases, revocations, and criminal history.
If the preliminary review indicates that the person is appropriate for the drug court program, the case will be transferred to the Drug Court Docket and an assessment will be scheduled with one of the program’s treatment providers. Once the person is accepted, a plea date will be scheduled, and then the person will start treatment.
What Happens if a Person Completes Drug Court?
The average time to complete drug treatment is 19 months, according to the Oklahoma Bar Association. Successful completion of a drug treatment program may result in dismissal of the criminal charges or sealing of the criminal record. The requirements for completing the treatment program vary by county. When a person fails to complete the requirements, the drug court has discretion to transfer a person's case back to the criminal court system, or to order more treatment.
If you are facing felony drug charges and believe you may be eligible for drug court, contact us today or call 405-542-2529 (542-CLAW) and we will immediately have one of our Oklahoma Criminal Law Attorneys follow up with you about whether you are eligible. Read more about our team, or continue reading and researching our free legal information library.