What You Need To Know About Michigan Drug Court
In Michigan, there is an Adult Treatment Court alternative that handles judicial proceedings involving chemically abusing and dependent non-violent adult drug offenders. Michigan has been a pioneer in the drug treatment court movement. Currently, there are 84 drug treatment courts in the state, 32 of which are adult drug courts and 15 juvenile drug courts. The program is limited to felony matters and was created to rehabilitate and successfully reintegrate eligible offenders back into their communities.
Where In Michigan Is Adult Drug Court Available?
The program is available in certain counties throughout the state. There are at least 40 counties in the state that have Adult Treatment Court programs. Counties where the Adult Treatment Court exists as judicial alternatives include but are not limited to: Oakland, Jackson, Cass, Lenawee, Ottawa, Livingston, Eaton, Macomb, Barry, and Wayne County. Each county has its own eligibility standards and requirements. Thus, if you are thinking of opting in for this alternative, make sure to check the applicable county’s requirements to determine if you meet the eligibility requirements.
The mission of the program is to promote public safety and reduce recidivism among non-violent adult felony offenders. Prior to its creation, a common occurrence involved an offender being sentenced to jail and later released with minimal assistance or direction in life, which resulted in reoccurring criminal acts. To lower recidivism and promote sobriety and recovery, the program was created. The program also benefits the community as the implementation of the program is expected to improve the safety of the community and reduce addiction-related crime. The program acts as a valuable resource in helping stop the cycle of addiction.
How Do I Determine If I Am Eligible To Enter An Adult Treatment Court Program?
Prior to being admitted into the Adult Treatment Court program, you must meet certain criteria. Specifically, the Court conducts a thorough assessment to confirm serious substance abuse or dependence. Typically, an individual must be at least 18 years old and a legal resident of the United States, be a resident of the respective county, and the subject criminal charge must have originated in the respective county. The individual cannot have any pending charges in another jurisdiction, and the individual cannot have any probation or parole status in another jurisdiction.
For you to be legally eligible to partake in the program, most counties require the following:
- You must plead guilty to the original charge.
- There must be a link to your offense and the use of drugs or alcohol.
- You cannot have any felony assault convictions.
- You cannot have any criminal sexual conduct convictions.
- You cannot have more than two prior misdemeanor assault convictions.
- You cannot have more than two prior delivery of controlled substance convictions.
- No weapon was used or possessed during the commission of your charged crime.
For clinical eligibility, most courts require that you meet the following:
- Qualify for substance use treatment at a level of intensive outpatient or higher.
- You have no health conditions that require continuous management with medical marijuana, opiate, or other narcotic medications.
- You have no mental health illness that requires you to take a long-term prescription of medication with addictive properties.
- You do not have a severe and persistent mental health diagnosis or significant cognitive impairment.
What Happens Once I Am Eligible?
Once confirmed, a customized treatment and rehabilitative plan is developed for each participant. Participants are expected to complete regular therapy to address their substance abuse and dependency issues and are subjected to frequent random drug and alcohol screens. A probation officer is assigned to each participant. Participants are typically required to meet with their probation officer and the judge on a frequent basis. Oftentimes, the Court will require participants to attend recovery support meetings such as AA, NA, or Smart Recovery.
When you are part of the program, failure to comply with the Court’s expectations can lead to sanctions. The program involves many team members, including a circuit court judge, case manager(s), program coordinator, treatment providers, probation agent(s), and law enforcement representative(s).
The judge is considered the leader of the team. The Court will work together with other members of the team regarding a participant’s admission into the program, create incentives for successful completion, enforce sanctions to adjust behaviors that hinder success, and apply any other necessary adjustments to ensure a participant’s journey to recovery.
The program coordinator oversees the daily operations within the Court. They evaluate and ensure that your providers are giving you the best services possible that will lead to a successful outcome in participating in the program.
The case manager will be an advocate for you as a participant throughout your entire journey. Meetings with the case manager are regularly mandated to discuss progress and see how you are doing in the program.
The treatment provider assesses a participant’s individual needs and provides treatment based on those needs. The treatment provider then will report to other members of the team on your progress. The treatment provider also will advise the team of interventions that they believe are valuable to your success in the program.
Your probation agent will check in with you and inquire as to how you are doing in the community, at home, and with drug testing. The probation agent will also report your progress to the team and help you continue the path to graduation from the program.
There is also a member of the Prosecutor’s Office and a Defense Attorney that are part of the team. These two members will mostly work in a joint effort and make decisions regarding the Court’s responses to a participant’s progress in the program. The drug court prosecutor will assist the Court in identifying and selecting offenders who they believe would make a good fit for the program. The prosecutor will then obtain a potential offender’s prior criminal history and participate in team meetings. The defense attorney will make sure that your legal rights are protected. You should expect your assigned defense attorney to fully participate as a Drug Court team member and commit to your successful completion of the program.
What Happens During The Program?
During your time in the program, the Court will create incentives and rewards to celebrate the achievements you have made while in the program. The purpose of this is to incentivize participants to successfully complete the program and reach the goal of overcoming alcohol or substance abuse. Achievements warranting a reward include but are not limited to:
- successful completion of a phase of the program,
- reaching a sobriety milestone,
- obtaining employment,
- Earning a GED,
- enrolling in an educational program,
- assisting other participants,
- becoming a mentor, and
- participation in program activities.
To celebrate any of these achievements, your program Team might award you with some incentives such as program fee discount, free drug screen, sobriety coins, gas cards, early discharge from probation, and a certificate of accomplishment.
The Adult Treatment Court alternative is very different from probation. This program is best suited for individuals who wish to make a change in their life and eliminate their drug and alcohol use. The program, depending on the county, will usually require a minimum participation of 12 months. Once a participant has successfully completed all phases of the program, they are then eligible for completion, also known as “graduation.” Failure to adequately comply with the requirements of the program can prolong a participant’s time in the program.
What Happens If I Break The Court’s Rules While In The Program?
If you fail to follow the rules of the program, you might be subjected to sanctions. These sanctions are imposed primarily to modify any behavior that is affecting your ability to move forward in the program. Sanctions are not meant to act as a punishment. Rather, they are enforced to adjust behavior and allow you to make mistakes while also encouraging you to move forward and learn from those mistakes. Some common rule violations include:
- Missing court hearings.
- Missing drug testing.
- Positive drug or alcohol test.
- Failure to attend case management meetings or treatment.
- Tampering with drug or alcohol screen procedures.
- Failure to respond to team member contacts in an appropriate time frame.
- Being late for Court.
If you were to violate any of the above rules or others not expressly listed, possible sanctions include increased urine screens, curfew, increased court attendance, community service, incarceration, phase extension, electronic monitoring, and work alternative program.
This program is not supposed to be easy. It is a long and hard journey. You might have a lot of setbacks, but perseverance, continued patience, and teamwork will lead to the successful completion of the program.
For some, entering the program is only done to avoid jail time. You might not think you have what it takes to stop using drugs and committing crimes. You might not even know you need intervention. Nevertheless, if you have a drug or alcohol problem, you can benefit from the Adult Treatment Court program. There is also a similar court approved program in Michigan for alcohol specifically known as sobriety court.
If you are eligible to enter, take advantage of the help from a team of people who want to help you succeed. We all know that overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction can be difficult, especially on your own. If you truly believe you have the will and courage to give it a fighting chance, consider entering an Adult Treatment Court program in your county today.
If you or someone you know is thinking of entering an Adult Treatment Program, contact our office today for a consult on whether the program will benefit your specific needs and if you are eligible to apply.
Michigan Drug Court Lawyer
To learn more about Michigan’s Adult Treatment Court, including how this might impact your criminal case, you should speak with a criminal defense attorney. George Law’s experienced criminal defense attorneys have meaningfully helped many clients in Michigan with Adult Treatment Court. We are ready to evaluate your situation and advise you on how to proceed. To get started, reach out to George Law by contacting us online for a free consultation.