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Criminal Defense

Have you heard of therapeutic court?

By April 12, 2023April 29th, 2024No Comments3 min read

Washington is not the only state facing serious drug addiction problems. In fact, the drug epidemic has no doubt affected the entire nation in various ways. Many families have suffered great losses when loved ones overdose or become involved in illicit drug activities that lead to criminal convictions and time in prison. In this state, several departments (including the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, as well as the Department of Social and Health Services) combine efforts in a system of therapeutic courts where many drug-related charges are adjudicated.

In several counties, including King, Mason and Snohomish, a certain percentage of sales tax monies applies toward maintaining these courts, in addition to various other mental health and chemical dependency treatment programs

There are several types of therapeutic courts

A main premise behind the development of therapeutic court is that crimes committed by mentally ill or drug-addicted people are not merely criminal justice issues, but matters directly related to the health of the general public. Below, is a list of different types of therapeutic courts in Washington:

    • Juvenile therapeutic court: This is a special docket that typically addresses matters specifically related to minor age children who have gotten in trouble with the law in situations somehow connected to drug and/or alcohol abuse.

    • Adult therapeutic court: The adult court deals with non-violent adult offenders in the hope of providing resources for successful rehabilitation and decreasing the number of repeat offenses.

    • Family therapeutic court: In families, one person’s drug problem is usually everyone’s drug problem because such issues tend to have ripple effects. The family drug court is comprised of judges, therapists, child social service advocates and others who come together to address situations that include parental substance abuse as causal factors.

    • Veterans therapeutic court: It’s no secret that many of our nation’s noble veterans often face serious problems related to drug and alcohol addiction, which often also lead to criminal charges of some sort. This court addresses the unique needs of military veterans in conjunction with such issues.

There are several other types of therapeutic courts as well. Typically, a trial court judge will refer a defendant to therapeutic court when the trial court is convinced the customized resources and services of the therapeutic court would be of benefit in a particular circumstance. The ways of the therapeutic court can depart from the usual processes followed in a trial court in order to allow participants to obtain treatments for specific conditions thought to have contributed to the conduct related to their arrests.

A therapeutic court judge can decline to hear a particular case. Also, there are some people who would be counted ineligible to participate in the therapeutic court process. An experienced Washington defense attorney can provide further information regarding this unique system of courts implemented in various counties throughout the state.