Drug Court is an intensive probation program designed to treat non-violent criminal defendants who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. First established in Florida in the early 1990’s, there are over 2000 drug courts nationally and 44 in this state. Drug Courts were created as an alternative to the traditional criminal justice prosecution for drug-related offenses. Drug Court is a partnership of the Judge, the District Attorney and treatment professionals. Drug Court has demonstrated its utility in vastly reducing recidivism rates, saving tax dollars by lowering incarceration rates and returning individuals to society as productive citizens.
HOW IT WORKS
The District Attorney’s office is the “gatekeeper” for the program. The defendant’s criminal record is reviewed along with any other relevant information. The following is a list of factors which disqualify a defendant from eligibility:
- Prior felony conviction of pending charge of R.S. 14:2 violent crime, including the crime before court.
- Conviction of an aggravated burglary or simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling if the defendant has one prior felony conviction.
- Prior conviction for narcotics distribution.
- Criminal record of violence.
- Criminal record of sex crimes excluding prostitution and crimes against nature.
- Criminal record of weapons violations.
- Use of a weapon during current offense.
- Active confidential informant.
- On active parole.
- Charges pending on hold from another jurisdiction.
- Illegal alien.
- Defendant not capable of participation.
- Multiple history of “failure to appear”.
- Currently in a methadone maintenance program.
Please note – The current charge:
- Cannot be a R.S. 14:2 Crime of Violence
- Cannot be a DWI involving death or a vehicular homicide.
If approved by the District Attorney, the defendant is then evaluated by probation
officers and treatment professionals. After consulting with a criminal defense attorney, eligible defendants then plead guilty as charged, but sentencing is deferred pending their successful completion of the program. If a defendant does not successfully complete the program, his deferred sentence is then executed and he/she goes to jail. Successful completion of this program results in the deferred sentence being set aside and an expungement.
Drug Court is described as an intensive probation program lasting a minimum of eighteen months and that relies on frequent drug tests, individual and group therapy, close monitoring by probation officers (e.g. home visits to check if curfew is being violated) and direct contact with the judge. Violation of the rules result in sanctions which range from community service to jail time to being placed in long term treatment facilities. Additionally, employment must be maintained and a GED must be obtained if they do not have a high school diploma. Lastly, the defendant has to pay fees for their participation in the program.
Drug Court Contact
Judge Kevin D. Conner
25th Judicial District, Div A
Tel. (504) 297-5226
Drug Court Coordinator
Tel. (504) 394-4202
Fax (504) 297-1872
Joseph E. Roberts
Assistant District Attorney
25th Judicial District
Tel. (504) 297-5146