Martin & Kent, L.L.C. Martin & Kent, L.L.C.

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What are drug courts?

In Illinois, drug courts are special programs within criminal courts that accept nonviolent drug offenders. These programs are very structured and monitor participants closely as they complete treatment programs for their drug addictions. In order to participate, offenders have to agree to follow the drug court rules, commit to counseling and treatment and attend court frequently. They also must submit to frequent random drug tests.

If people complete drug court successfully, they are said to have graduated. People who entered drug court before going to trial may have their charges dismissed upon successful completion of the program. For those who were sentenced, they may have their sentences reduced for successfully completing drug court. Treatment in drug court is mandatory.

Illinois has adopted several key components for the state's drug courts as outlined by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. These include an integration of treatment with the criminal case processing system, nonadversarial approaches by defense attorneys and prosecutors, early identification of eligibility and placement, frequent drug testing, access to a variety of different treatment options, monitoring and ongoing interaction with the court.

People who are facing drug charges may want to ask their criminal defense attorneys about whether or not drug court might be an option for them. An attorney may advise the client regarding the eligibility requirements and may also recommend participation in drug court to the prosecutor if it appears to be a good option. Once people are accepted into drug court, it is very important that they comply with the program requirements, testing and treatment. Successfully completing drug court can help people to avoid incarceration and possibly to avoid having a conviction for drugs on their record.

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