Understanding New Jersey’s drug court program

Some individuals who receive drug possession charges in New Jersey may be eligible for the state’s drug court program. This arrangement helps those with substance abuse issues seek recovery while turning away from criminal behavior.

These are the answers to some of the most common questions offenders and their families have about New Jersey drug court.

Who can qualify for drug court?

If you have moderate to severe addiction and no history of violent offenses, you are likely eligible for drug court. You must undergo a professional substance abuse evaluation to determine that you have clinical substance use disorder.

What happens during the drug court process?

Participants must complete a four-phase process with probation and court reporting requirements that decrease over time. You must also complete either an inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment program. Most people can graduate from drug court within two years if they meet all their requirements.

At first, you must report to court weekly for drug tests. Over time, reporting intervals increase as you complete your requirements. You must also show that you are attending self-help meetings, whether you choose Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous.

What are the advantages of the drug court program?

Not only can individuals pursue treatment for substance use disorder through this program, but they may also qualify for assistance with employment and education. Counselors can help you take the steps you need to live an independent sober lifestyle, such as seeking driver’s license reinstatement.

This program also allows many first-time offenders to avoid jail time. Some participants may qualify for expungement of their criminal records after completing drug court.

According to a 2019 report from NJ.com, fewer than 3% of people who complete drug court receive jail time for a different crime within three years. The data also shows that 89% of participants graduate from drug court with a job and that about 66% of participants have a full-time job. Nearly 6,000 people have successfully graduated from drug court since 2002, and 95% of drug tests among current participants are negative.