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How Can the Berks County Drug Court Help You?

According to recent figures, the prison population in Pennsylvania has increased by 625% over the last 32 years. In the last eight years, Berks County has been trying to stem the increase in incarceration rates by using specialized treatment courts to get people the help they need rather than throwing them in jail.

Berks County has had an adult drug court since 2005. The goal of drug court is not to punish but to rehabilitate the defendant and achieve a reduction in recidivism and substance abuse among offenders. The judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney work together and the judge plays an active role in the treatment process, including frequently reviewing treatment progress.

At the start of the process, trained professionals assess drug court-eligible individuals for alcohol or drug problems and suitability for treatment. The initial appearance before the drug court judge occurs immediately after arrest and the court requires that eligible participants enroll in alcohol or drug treatment services promptly. Because criminal prosecution will not be invoked for admitting to alcohol or drug use in open court, the defendant is encouraged to be truthful with the judge and with treatment staff, and is expected to speak directly to the judge.

Treatment services may include a residential drug treatment center, detox, family counseling, housing assistance, educational and vocational training, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Compliance with the terms of treatment is monitored via frequent testing for alcohol and other drugs.

Non-compliance with the treatment program can lead to increased frequency of testing and court appearances, increased monitoring or treatment intensity, fines, community service or work programs, and escalating periods of jail confinement, leading to termination from the program and reinstatement of regular court processing. On the other hand, compliance with the treatment program may be rewarded by reduced supervision, decreased frequency of court appearances, reduced fines or fees, dismissal of criminal charges or reduction in the term of probation, and reduced or suspended incarceration, leading to graduation from the program.

If you have been charged with a drug crime, contact a defense attorney immediately. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you fight the charges or avoid jail time by helping to guide your case through the Berks County Drug Court.

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