West Virginia Judiciary

Drug Court Participants

 

Participants

Adult drug courts in West Virginia may serve offenders who have been charged with, pled guilty to, or been found guilty of misdemeanor or felony drug-related offenses, or offenses in which substance abuse is determined to have been a factor in the commission of the offense.

Drug offenders who volunteer for drug court may receive a sentence reduction or avoid a jail and prison sentence if they perform satisfactorily in drug court and complete the minimum one-year program. Successful completion may also result in withholding criminal charges, probation, deferred sentencing, or other incentives, depending upon the agreement reached when entering drug court. Participation in drug court must be pursuant to a written agreement which outlines how a case will be disposed of if the drug offender is or is not successful in completing the program. Drug court is a program of intensive supervision that requires that its participants be subject to more frequent drug testing as well as more frequent review and inspection by drug court personnel. Additionally, as motivation for program compliance, incentives are also used by drug courts to reward participants throughout their participation if they actively adhere to or exceed the requirements of drug court.

Similarly, a drug court judge also may impose reasonable sanctions on a drug offender, including incarceration or expulsion from the program, if an offender does not perform satisfactorily or otherwise violates the terms and conditions of drug court. Participants may be forced to repeat certain phases of the program if they have positive drug screens, fail to cooperate, or otherwise do not comply with drug court requirements. The judge may impose jail time if the judge feels it is therapeutically necessary to make a participant follow the protocol and be successful in drug court.

Prosecutors and drug court judges are the final authority who decide who may participate in drug court. People registered as sex offenders or who have a prior felony conviction for a crime of violence are not eligible for these programs. Participants undergo substance abuse treatment; must submit to frequent, random, and observed drug testing; and are intensely supervised in drug court programs. If needed, participants also may undergo treatment for mental illness.

Every multi-disciplinary drug court team is led by a drug court judge, meets weekly, and reviews the cases in drug court to discuss a coordinated response to each drug offender’s behavior. West Virginia has both judges and magistrates who volunteer as drug court judges.

For more details on West Virginia drug courts, see W.Va. Code §62-15-1, et. seq., The West Virginia Drug Offender Accountability and Treatment Act.