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Some juveniles charged with an offense who have alcohol or drug problems can go into the juvenile drug court program. Juveniles in the program go to treatment, have frequent testing to see if they're using alcohol/drugs, and have many court hearings before the Drug Court Judge, sometimes as often as weekly. If a juvenile successfully completes the Drug Court program, the charges are dismissed.

Learn about Juvenile Drug Court on King County TV.

Under the leadership of a juvenile court judge, a team that includes the prosecutor, defense attorney, probation counselor, and community treatment staff works to help the young person get help for their substance abuse while imposing strict limits on their behavior.

Each juvenile is required to participate in a 9- to 24-month program that includes early, continuous and intensive court-monitored treatment. This approach motivates participants to finish their mandatory treatment, maintain school or employment, complete community service and other court-ordered conditions.

A juvenile who enters the Drug Court program, waives the right to a trial. If the juvenile successfully completes the program, charges will be dismissed. If the juvenile does not complete the program, the judge will review the police reports associated with the case and decide guilt or innocence.

This process is combined with frequent status hearings with the Drug Court Judge to monitor the juvenile's progress. Closely-monitored treatment services can include:

  • Substance abuse treatment, including: adolescent detoxification and in-patient treatment;
  • Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST), a family-oriented treatment program aimed at reducing high-risk acting-out behaviors in youth;
  • Functional Family Therapy, a treatment program that teaches communication and problem-solving skills;
  • Aggression Replacement Training, which teaches a range of positive reactions to stressful situations;
  • A mentor trained to work with juvenile offenders; mentors come from a state program with a track record of success;
  • Advocacy Team Coordination.

An Advocacy Team is a group of people who come together to support a multi-system involved youth and his or her family. Advocacy Team Coordination has shown promising effectiveness in reducing legal involvement, improving school and family functioning, and reducing the number of housing transitions.

Advocacy Teams look at the family as a whole and work to develop strategies that build on the strengths of the youth, the family, and their community. The goal is to help the youth and family help themselves, while relying less on treatment and court professionals. The teams are family-centered, meaning the family defines what is important to them and prioritizes needs and services. Because an Advocacy Team is comprised of individuals outside of the court system, it continues providing support even after court involvement ends.

The Juvenile Drug Court works with youth who are on probation and assessed as moderate to high risk to re-offend. Youth can be referred to the Drug Court program by their probation counselor or attorney.

If an interpreter is needed for your appointment with the Court, one can be provided by calling the Office of Interpreter Services at (206) 477-1415.

Results from an outcome evaluation completed in 2003 suggests that youth who have participated in this program are less likely to commit another felony offense compared to youth with a similar profile on standard supervision.