The Harford County Adult Drug Court Programhas been in operation in the District Court for Harford County since November of 1997. The program offers and alternative to the traditional methods of handling cases by providing eligible defendants with drug education, individual counseling, group counseling, family counseling and other social services, including vocational and educational services, while under close judicial scrutiny. In contrast with traditional case processing, the judge, prosecutor, public defender/private attorney, probation officer and treatment provider work collaboratively in a non-adversarial manner to encourage the defendant's success in the program.
The Adult Drug Court is held in the District Court for Harford County on the second and fourth Monday of each month. A defendant who voluntarily enters the program does so by way of guilty plea. The verdict is then held sub curia while the defendant participates in the program. A probation before judgment is granted at graduation when the defendant successfully complete the program. A defendant who maintains abstinence, completes all assignments in a timely manner, and attends all court dates, probation appointments and counseling sessions, may be eligible for a not guilty finding. Not guilty findings are given at the discretion of the Drug Court Judge after completion of a minimum three-month probationary period subsequent to graduation and upon the nomination of the probation officer, treatment provider and prosecutor.
Who is Eligible?
The State's Attorney's Office has designed a specific Drug Court Prosecutor who screens all incoming drug possession cases. The following criteria must be met in order for the defendant to be offered the Drug Court Program.
The defendant is a Harford County resident. (Upon request and with the approval of the probation officer, a defendant who lives close to the county line may be approved for the program.)
The defendant must have no prior record, or contact with the criminal justice system must be nominal with no convictions or probation before judgments in the recent past.
The defendant must be non-violent.
The defendant must not be on active probation.
The case must be within the jurisdiction of the District Court for Harford County.
In addition to the drug possession cases regularly screened by the State's Attorney's Office, other cases within the jurisdiction of the District Court for Harford county can be referred to the Drug Court Prosecutor for program consideration. Cases that are appropriate for screening referral include charges in which the defendant was either under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance or alcohol at the time the crime was committed, or cases in which the motivating factor for the crime is addiction related. Drunk and drugged driving offenses may be considered for the program. However, such charges are not eligible for a finding of not guilty. Further, upon request, the Drug Court Prosecutor will consider offering the program to a defendant with a prior record. In such a case, a negotiated plea as a suspended sentence or reduced jail time is the recommended disposition upon graduation from the program.
What is the Time Commitment?
The Drug Court Program requires the defendant to participate in the program for a minimum of six months. The defendant must remain drug and alcohol free for a minimum of ninety days in order to graduate. After graduation, the defendant remains on probation for three to eighteen months. The period of after-care probation is at the discretion of the Drug Court Judge. While in the program, the defendant must attend Drug Court on the second and fourth Monday of each month, unless such dates fall on a court holiday or the defendant is granted a pass. The defendant also is required to attend group and individual counseling once a week, complete twelve education classes and report to the probation agent on the first and third Thursday of each month. The probation agent will also conduct occasional home visits.
Questions regarding the treatment component of the Drug Court Program can be directed to the Drug Court Coordinator at 410.612.1641.
Questions regarding the legal process or eligibility for the Drug Court Program can be directed to the Drug Court Prosecutor or Drug Court Legal Assistant at 410.638.3231.