Drug Courts were established in New York to assist in rehabilitation, rather than incarceration. When charged with specific felony drug crimes, a person can qualify for admission to drug court in the county where they reside.

Drug Court involves an 18-month program of weekly meetings in drug court to track one’s rehabilitation. Throughout the 18 months probationary period, a person in drug court can be drug tested at random, at any time. Upon successful completion of drug court, the felony charge automatically is reduced to a misdemeanor.

Many of our clients choose to apply for drug court in order to avoid having a felony drug-related offense on their record. However, in a matter recently handled by this firm, where our client was arrested and charged with drug possession, we were able to work out a settlement that allowed her to avoid drug court. She did not qualify for drug court simply because she did not reside in the county where she was charged with a felony.

Her felony charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, pending compliance with an “interim secret probation.” It was basically her own personal drug court, where she did not have to appear in court. She sought counseling once a month and maintained her sobriety. Therefore, the court allowed for her to complete fulfill the requirements of drug court, without actually having to go to drug court.

The result, receiving a misdemeanor after being charged with a felony, would have been the same in drug court. Yet the probationary period would have been significantly more intense and difficult had she been enrolled in drug court.