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Drug Court

Drug Court Program

The San Mateo County Drug Court aims to address the behavioral and clinical needs of nonviolent defendants charged with “exempt” misdemeanors (§1203a(b)), or felonies subject to sentencing pursuant to §1170(h) who will be sentenced to a probationary sentence. Defendants charged with a non-§1170(h) felony may be referred to Drug Court at the discretion of the Criminal Presiding Judge or sentencing judge after they determine that the case is appropriate for a grant of supervised probation. The goal of Drug Court in San Mateo County is to achieve reduction in recidivism and mitigation of the effects of substance abuse on the participant, the justice system, and society as a whole, by working with defendants in a judicially-supervised, team-based, and treatment-grounded modality. Participants must enter into a contract with the Drug Court program and agree to particular conditions of diversion or probation, including a treatment plan, and specific performance expectations for successful graduation.

What is Drug Court?

Drug Court offers individuals facing criminal charges for drug use and/or possession an opportunity to enter into substance use treatment and obtain recovery resources in lieu of a traditional jail sentence.

Drug Court requires considerable effort and personal accountability. The defendants are frequently drug tested and must attend substance abuse recovery meetings and make court appearances regularly. Defendants must also abide by all other rules and laws.

If the participant successfully completes the conditions set by the drug court judge, they graduate from Drug Court, and they may have a lesser penalty imposed or have their original charge dismissed or reduced. If a participant has multiple charges, they may have a combination of these.

Why have Drug Court?

An enormous proportion of criminal defendants have a substance abuse problem. Most crimes are either directly or indirectly connected to addiction. People with a substance abuse problem require treatment. Drug Courts offer a way to help a defendant recover from addiction and stop related criminal activity.

Benefits of Drug Court

Who is involved in Drug Court and what do they do?

The Drug Court Program is a collaborative effort between the following partners:

  • San Mateo County Superior Court
  • District Attorney’s Office: the District Attorney assigned to Drug Court negotiates the disposition of criminal charges and the defendant’s program conditions
  • Private Defender Program: the Private Defender works with defendant to ensure that the defendant understands their rights. They advise and inform participants as to the nature of Drug Court expectations and possible consequences of failing to comply
  • Behavioral Health and Recovery Services: Through the County’s Alcohol and Other Drug Services Division, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services provides treatment services along a continuum of care as determined through the development of an individual treatment plan for participants. BHRS provides reports and recommendations on participants’ treatment progress.
  • Probation Department: The Probation Department supervises all participants referred to Drug Court to ensure they comply with court and program requirements. Assigned probation officers interview, supervise, chemically test, and keep regular contact with participants and their treatment providers. Probation Officers provide regular reports on the progress of the participants

I have been arrested, is Drug Court for me?

More information

For more information, visit these websites:

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