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DRUG COURT

DRUG COURT

Originally established in 1997, the Chester County Drug Court Program provides an alternative to incarceration for individuals charged with drug possession in Pennsylvania. It was the second such program in the state, and it helps treat non-violent drug offenders for substance abuse through a supervisory program that ranges between 12 and 24 months.

The program provides numerous benefits for those eligible to participate. The program provides strict rules and requirements that have to be met in order to successfully complete the program. The goal of the Chester County Drug Court is for participants to successfully complete rehabilitative treatment that ultimately leads to their charges being dismissed, their record expunged and reduces their likelihood of recidivism.

Chester County Drug Court Lawyer

A criminal defense attorney can act as an advocate for your participation in the Drug Court Program. Michael Skinner with the Skinner Law Firm helps clients facing drug charges throughout Chester County, PA. He also represents individuals in nearby, Delaware County, Lancaster County, and Montgomery County.

Before opening his own criminal defense firm, Michael J. Skinner handled various types of drug charges as the Assistant District Attorney for Chester County. This experience provides him with a unique insight into the justice system, and he can give you a realistic sense of what options you have when you call (610) 436-1410 to schedule a free consultation.


Pennsylvania Drug Court Information Center


Chester County Drug Court Eligibility

You may be eligible for the program if you meet the following requirements:

  • You were charged with non-mandatory drug offenses and/or your first driving under the influence (DUI) with a drug offense
  • You were not under probation or parole supervision when you were charged with drug offenses
  • You have no prior record of violent offenses
  • You must be a legal resident of the United States
  • You must waive your right to a Preliminary Hearing

You will also be required to complete a Drug Court application, an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) application (if your case involves DUI charges), and a drug and alcohol assessment in order to be considered for the program.


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Drug Court Requirements in West Chester

In order to successfully complete the program, you will be required to:

  • Attend school and/or secure employment
  • Be present for frequent court sessions
  • Earn your high school diploma or GED
  • Go to support meetings
  • Have home visits by your probation officer
  • Participate in substance abuse treatment
  • Pay any court fines and/or restitution
  • Pay any treatment costs
  • Regularly meet with your probation officer
  • Submit to random urinalysis screenings
  • Submit yourself, residence, and car to search

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Four Phases of Chester County Drug Court

This is a four-phase program that lasts a minimum of one year. All phases are a minimum of 90 days (12 weeks), and you must meet specific goals and requirements in order to move on to the next phase. The key concepts and requirements for each phase are as follows:

  • PHASE ONE — Recovery and Responsibility to Self
    • Report to probation officer weekly
    • Attend Drug Court every one to three weeks
    • Submit to random urine tests
    • Participate in drug and alcohol treatment
    • Regularly attend self‐help sobriety group meetings
    • Begin seeking employment or vocation training
  • PHASE TWO — Maintenance of Recovery and Responsibility to Others
    • Report to probation officer every other week
    • Attend Drug Court every three to four weeks
    • Submit to random  urine tests
    • Participate in drug and alcohol treatment
    • Regularly attend self‐help sobriety group meetings
    • Begin seeking employment or vocational training
    • Actively paying restitution, court fees or treatment costs
  • PHASE THREE — Reinforce a Clean, Sober and Legal Lifestyle
    • Report to probation officer monthly
    • Attend Drug Court every four to six weeks
    • Submit to random  drug tests
    • Follow treatment plan
    • Maintain employment or approved use of time
    • Actively paying restitution, court fees or treatment costs
    • Complete Phase Three Project
  • PHASE FOUR — Relapse Prevention
    • Report to probation officer as directed
    • Attend Drug Court only if required by the Judge
    • Submit to random drug tests
    • Employed or approved use of time
    • Participate in Drug Court Support Group

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Random Drug Testing in Pennsylvania Drug Court

A major component of the program is compliance with random drug and alcohol testing. As a participant in the program, you will be tested randomly throughout the entire length of the program. There are several important notes about drug and alcohol testing:

  • You will be required to call the testing hotline telephone number Sunday through Friday between the times of 9 p.m. and 7:30 a.m.

If you are selected for testing, you have to report to the Chester County Department of Adult Probation and Parole the following day and submit to a test. You need to be prepared to provide a urine sample while being observed by a probation officer or testing technician when you report. You could also be required to give other samples in addition to those required by the Random Drug Testing System.

  • Failure to submit a sample or appear for testing will be considered as a positive for Treatment Court purposes.

The sanctions for missing random tests are as follows:

1st positive ‐ 24 hours incarceration

2nd positive ‐ 72 hours incarceration

3rd positive ‐ One-week incarceration

4th positive ‐ Removal from the program

  • The program prohibits use of the following medications:
    • Barbiturates
    • Benzodiazepines such as Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, Xanax,  etc.
    • Muscle relaxers such as Flexeril
    • Narcotic pain medication such as Darvocet, Oxycontin, Percocet,  etc.
    • Sleep Aids such as Ambien or Soma
    • Stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin
  • You should seek alternative prescriptions for the following medications, which may cause a cross-reaction with drug testing. When visiting a doctor or emergency room, you must notify any and all doctors that you are an addict and cannot take the following medications (your probation officer will give you a card to show to doctors):
    • Clarithromycin
    • Effexor
    • Lamictal
    • Protonix
    • Sustiva
    • Zantac
    • Zoloft
  • Your probation officer must approve any dietary supplements and/or vitamins before you take them.
    • Weight loss aids are prohibited.
    • Do not consume anything with poppy seeds.
  • You will be tested for alcohol. It is your responsibility to limit your exposure to certain alcohol‐containing products and substances, like the ones below that contain ethyl alcohol. It is your responsibility to read product labels, to know what is contained in the products before you use and consume them.  Any use of the following products in violation of this contract will not be allowed as an excuse for a positive test result:
    • Cough syrups and other liquid medications
    • Food and other ingestible products that contain ethyl alcohol
    • Hand sanitizers
    • Hygiene products that contain ethyl alcohol
    • Mouthwash and breath strips
    • Non­alcoholic beer and wine
    • Solvents and lacquers

Additional Resources: 

Drug Court in Chester County, PA – Visit the official website of Chester County to find out more about the 2nd drug court in Pennsylvania launched in 1997. Find information about the program, eligibility programs, supervision requirements, and the drug court application.


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Entering Pennsylvania Drug Courts

If you are facing drug charges in Pennsylvania, it is in your best interest to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Michael J. Skinner provides aggressive legal defense for clients all over Chester County and the surrounding areas, including Lancaster County, Montgomery County, and  Delaware County.

You can receive a free review of your case when you contact the Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 today to set up an initial no obligation, no charge consultation. Michael J. Skinner can develop a formidable defense and work to help you achieve the most favorable possible outcome to your case.

This article was last updated on Monday, March 7, 2016.

Michael Skinner
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