Last Updated: 2009-11-04

What are Drug Court programs?

Drug Courts are specialized dockets within the existing structure of Virginia's court system that offer a dispositional alternative to eligible addicted offenders.

The three basic components of Drug Court programs:

  • Strict and frequent probation supervision with urinalysis testing several times per week;
  • Intensive drug treatment and required attendance at Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous several times per week;
  • Frequent reporting to court with immediate sanctions imposed for relapse of program noncompliance. Drug Court participants say that regular appearances before the judge make the difference in working to break their addiction cycle.

Drug Courts involve the united efforts of judges, Commonwealth's Attorneys, defense attorneys, public defenders, treatment clinicians, sheriff's deputies, police officers, probation officers, and court clerks who serve on the local Drug Court team.

  • In Virginia, 32% of all convicted felons are drug offenders.
  • In Virginia, 50% of all convicted felons have evidence of prior drug abuse; 31% are alcohol abusers.
  • In Virginia, 67% of probationers use illicit drugs; 69% of jail inmates are in need of substance abuse treatment.
  • In Virginia, more than 1000 infants were born in 1999 with evidence of illegal drug exposure and another 422 babies had been exposed to alcohol.

Are defendants who plead "not guilty", but are found guilty by the Court or a jury, eligible to participate in Drug Court?


Is residential treatment required for every participant in Drug Court?

No. However, many defendants may be required to complete inpatient detoxification before entering the program.

Are defendants required to participate in Drug Court?

No. Defendants voluntarily agree to participate.

Will defendants with regular, temporary, or part-time employment be allowed to continue employment?

Yes, as long as your schedule allows you to participate in morning or evening treatment sessions. The sessions take place from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. One of the program requirements is that you work 35 hours a week.

When and where are the Drug Court hearings?

Hearings are held every Friday at 10:00 a.m. in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, John Marshall Courts Building. However, dates and times are subject to change depending upon the Circuit Court's schedule.

Why are Drug Courts effective?

Drug Court service delivery is based on best practices in addiction treatment, as defined by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, including:

  • Treatment is readily available.
  • Drug Court treatment addresses multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug use.
  • Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical for treatment effectiveness. Drug Courts are designed to last more than a year. Addicts who stay in treatment a year or more are twice as likely to remain drug-free.
  • Counseling and other behavioral therapies are critical components of treatment.
  • Addicted or drug-abusing individuals with co-occurring disorders have their substance abuse and mental health disorders can be treated in an integrated way.
  • Frequent drug testing monitors any use of drugs or alcohol.

How effective are Drug Court programs?

Drug Court costs an average of $4,000 to $6,000 per offender per year while average incarceration costs range from $22,000 to $38,000 per offender per year.

Virginia's Drug Court retention rate is 62.77%; only 10% of voluntary clients complete treatment in Virginia's Community Service Boards (CSB) mental health/substance abuse outpatient treatment.

Virginia's Drug Court felony recidivism rate is 5.9% as compared to a 50% felony recidivism rate for other Virginia drug offenders handled in traditional ways of probation or incarceration.

Contact Information:

Adult Drug Court
City of Richmond
501 N. Ninth St., 2nd Fl.
Public Safety Building
Richmond, VA
23219 USA
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Phone: (804)646-3655
Fax: (804)646-3738
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