3D illustration of "DRUG COURT" title on legal document

What is Drug Court?

The mission of the drug court program is to assist defendants in overcoming alcohol and other drug dependencies while also resolving related criminal charges. Drug courts involve a highly specialized team process within the NJ Superior Court structure that addresses nonviolent drug-related cases. This type of court is unique in the criminal justice environment because it fosters a close collaborative relationship between criminal justice and drug treatment professionals.

Drug court programs are rigorous and require intensive supervision based on frequent drug testing and court appearances. This supervision comes with tightly structured regimens of treatment and recovery services. The level of supervision allows the program to support the recovery process, but also permits supervisors to react swiftly to impose appropriate therapeutic sanctions or to reinstate criminal proceedings when participants cannot comply with the program.

Instead of serving jail time, a person convicted of a crime motivated by drugs or alcohol can enter a supervised probation program that helps people recover from substance addiction.  A person is required to enter a plea of guilty and receive an “alternative” prison sentence.  They are then sentenced to probation with the special condition of completing the drug court program of treatment.  If the individual does not successfully graduate the drug court program they are then sentenced to their alternative sentence of prison.


There are many factors that go into determining Drug Court eligibility in New Jersey. The three primary factors are as follows:

  1. The candidate must be an adult.
  2. The candidate must suffer from substance abuse.
  3. The candidate must be facing charges from a non-violent crime.

The program’s goal is to focus on those individuals who can most likely benefit from the program.


According to the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts, over 18,000 participants have been enrolled in Drug Court since it began in 2002.  Over 4,000 participants have graduated the program. Over 5,900 individuals have participated. Importantly, 84% of graduates are employed at the time of graduation.  Approximately 61% have obtained a valid driver’s license. There have been at least 348 drug free babies born to participants in the program.

Next Steps?

If you or someone you know suffers from addiction in NJ and has been charged with a non-violent crime, drug court may be the best option moving forward. Our attorneys provide free consultations and unparalleled representation. Please call the Law Office of Sara McArdle to schedule a consultation today at 973-366-5244.