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What happens in orientation and where is it held?
The youth and parent(s) are given a detailed explanation of all aspects of the program prior to signing a contract and entering the JDC program. Orientation is held in the Jury Auditorium room which is located on the 2nd floor in the main courthouse.


What happens in court?
Following orientation the youth who elect to enter JDC officially enter a plea of guilty to the charge(s). The judge then inquires as to the extent of drug use and other personal information is obtained. This is the arraignment process. Upon entry into JDC, the youth is scheduled for status reviews, at various intervals of the treatment process. This is to ensure program compliance, and if they are in non-compliant status, the youth is sanctioned accordingly to encourage positive behavior. The youth will be held accountable to be completely drug free; program and community resources will be exhausted.

What is the process?

  1. Upon program enrollment, youth that are referred to the Juvenile Drug Court Program and have ongoing participation or successful completion of the Drug Court Program, will then be allowed to remain in his/her currently assigned school of the Hillsborough School District. EACH STUDENT REFERRED BY HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT MUST BE EVALUATED AND COMPLETE ALL RECOMMENDED TREATMENT.
  2. The State Attorney's Office is notified for qualification purposes for youth to potentially have an opportunity for charge(s) to be dismissed by participating in a "diversion" program. If the charge(s) are officially filed in another court division other than Juvenile Drug Court or not officially filed by the Office of the State Attorney, the child is still required to continue and successfully complete treatment as recommended. Failure to do so can result in a change of school placement.
  3. Students must enroll within three (3) business days following being arrested/processed through the (JAC) Juvenile Assessment Center.
  4. The student and parent should be given the instructions form, the Juvenile Drug Court brochure and information to contact the Drug Court Programs Office for registration from his/her school. An immediate referral for an evaluation and other pertinent program information is provided.
  5. By calling 813) 272-6179 (and speaking to the Drug Court Specialist (the student is given three working days upon being instructed by their school to make this call).
  6. The appropriate level of treatment will be determined by the level of drug involvement and risk factors. The exact length of time in the program is determined by the treatment and educational need. The youth is required to participate in random drug screens, drug education classes, as well as group and individual counseling. Students who continually test positive during treatment may be referred to DETOX and/or an inpatient residential treatment facility. Furthermore, attendance of NA/AA meetings may be required.

Are there any instructions students/parents should follow?

Click here to access a printer-friendly Instruction Sheet for Students/Parents.  

Is Hillsborough County School District involved in this program?

Nearly ½ of the entire Juvenile Drug Court program is represented by referrals from the Hillsborough County School District.  

Are there instructions Hillsborough County School Officials be should following to interact with the drug court program?

Click here to access the Information Sheet for Hillsborough County School Officials  

Where is the court room located?
JDC is held on the 1st floor in the Annex building of the court house, court room #13.  

How long is the program?
The exact length of time in the program is determined by the treatment and educational need. Though it rarely occurs a child can be kept under the jurisdiction of JDC until his/her 19th birthday.  

Upon completing the program what happens to the charge?

Youth who successfully complete the JDC program will receive an official order of dismissal and a graduation certificate. The youth is not convicted of a crime or delinquent act. The charge is dismissed through this process.

If already participating in a drug treatment program, is restarting treatment required upon attending his/her first appearance being arraigned into the Drug Court?

The youth who begin drug treatment prior to officially entering JDC at the Arraignment process receive credit for everything that he/she has done. A status report will be completed by the treatment provider and presented to the judge in court.  

Do I need a lawyer to enter the Juvenile Drug Court program?

No, however, program entry requires signing a contract. An attorney can answer any legal questions the youth or parent may have.  

If I enter JDC without an attorney, can I hire an attorney later in the process?
Yes, anyone charged with a criminal offense is entitled to have legal representation at any time they wish.  

What if I cannot afford to hire an attorney?

The Office of the Public Defender is available for individuals who cannot afford to hire an attorney. You must first be interviewed by that office to determine if you qualify for their services. The qualification requirements are based on household income. For indigent screening at the Public Defender's office feel free to call (813) 272-5980.  

What’s the purpose of this program?

To reduce substance abuse and recidivism among nonviolent juvenile offenders; provide constructive and intensive court supervision, extensive substance abuse treatment, educational and employment services; and maximize a juvenile’s opportunities for success.  To reduce delinquency and or substance abuse dependence among juveniles and their families; to provide treatment and incentives to juveniles rather than incarceration through the use of rewards and sanctions, to encourage a juvenile to progress and succeed. Participants should ultimately display significant improvement in school and family relationships.    

How does one qualify to enter into this program?

Nonviolent juvenile offenders with drug offenses and/or substance abuse issues.  The State Attorney’s Office will screen eligible participants.  

What kind of services are offered during the program?

Services involve substance abuse treatment but may also include family, grief, anger, behavior, or any other form of therapeutic intervention that is deemed necessary for a participant’s wellbeing.  

What if my child is in school/works?
The Drug Court works closely with schools and GED programs to promote youth independence after Drug Court. Furthermore, the Drug Court encourages the youth to be gainfully employed or continue their education.  

What incentives are given to the juveniles to do well in the program?

Program incentives are one part of the Juvenile Drug Court treatment plan. Incentives are intended to reinforce positive change. They also reward individuals who achieve and maintain treatment goals. The JDC team can reward incentives at a formal court review, or at their discretion.  Some examples of incentives include but are not limited to appearance in court being waived or praise from the bench and court staff. 

What happens if a juvenile fails to comply with the program requirements?

Failure to comply with the program may result in sanctions imposed by the Judge. Non-compliance is handled in a time effective manner, thus helping youth realize that there are direct and speedy consequences to negative behavior. Any sanctions imposed by the judge are based upon the severity of the offending behavior, taking into account the youth’s history of compliance/non-compliance in the program as well as general progress. Students who continually test positive during treatment may be referred to DETOX and/or an inpatient residential treatment facility or to Detention (juvenile jail). Furthermore, attendance of NA/AA meetings may be required.  Each juvenile in drug court is considered a unique individual, and so the needs of the child, including the need for sanctions, depend on the unique circumstances of each individual youth.   

What are some examples of sanctions imposed?
The following sanctions may include but are not limited to:

1.     Writing a paper

2.     Curfew

3.     Increased drug testing

4.     Increased court appearances

5.     Increased participation in outpatient individual or group counseling sessions

6.     Increased AA/NA meetings

7.     Participation in various community service programs

8.     Repeating an earlier phase of the program

9.     Residential treatment

10.    Extending time in the program

11.    Withdrawal from the program and institution of the original prosecution

12.    Placement in a secure facility

13.    Alternative sanctions, such as up to 50 (fifty) hours of community service

14.    Withholding issuance of, or suspension of, driver’s license or driving privileges. 

How does drug court know how my child is doing in the program if he is going to school as normal?
Participants are monitored by Drug Court program supervisors for progress in treatment at school and at home. Status reports are provided to the court by treatment providers and schools.

How does the judge know how the juvenile is doing?
Recommendations are made to the judge as to services, levels of care, incentives and sanctions. Prior to each court session, the Drug Court Team meets to discuss the progress of each individual drug court participant.

How are individuals referred to the Juvenile Drug Court?
Juveniles in the program must have been charged by the State Attorney with a crime. The State Attorney and Juvenile Drug Court must approve entry into the program. Juvenile Drug Court participants come to the program from different referral sources.  The main sources are as follows:

  1. The Hillsborough County School District: The school district has a Zero-Tolerance Policy for possession of drugs/alcohol on campus. If students are arrested on campus for drug or drug related charges, referrals may be made to the Juvenile Drug Court for an evaluation and treatment. If referred students do not complete the program or follow the recommendations of the treatment provider, the school district is notified by the Juvenile Drug Court staff.  The school board will then hold a change of placement hearing, to determine if referred individuals may return to school, or any public school in Hillsborough County. 
  2. The Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC): After juveniles are arrested, they are taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center where they are interviewed by a JAC employee and asked to provide a urine sample.  Testing positive for illegal substances or reporting to the JAC employee that they have used illegal substances could be reasons for a referral to Juvenile Drug Court, even if the arrest was not related to drugs/alcohol on campus.
  3. The Juvenile Arbitration Program: If juveniles are originally referred to the Juvenile Arbitration Program and fail to complete it successfully, the Juvenile Arbitration staff may recommend them for the Juvenile Drug Court program. 
  4. Juvenile Division Transfer: Juveniles who appear before a juvenile division judge may be ordered to participate in the Juvenile Drug Court program.