In 2018, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed a bill into law that expanded drug treatment courts throughout Missouri. The new law requires that each county supports an alternative method for prosecuting drug crimes by focusing on rehabilitation, treatment and education.

Each of Missouri’s drug treatment courts work a little differently depending on the programs available in each county, but they follow uniform state guidelines. How do these courts work?

Missouri drug court purpose

Missouri treatment courts serve veterans, those charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), first-time non-violent drug offenders, and others. These courts seek to provide offenders with an alternative to incarceration, allowing offenders to heal with the help of their communities.

The lawmakers based their decision to expand drug treatment courts in research. Studies show that drug treatment courts reduce recidivism rates and save states millions of dollars. Drug courts respect and recognize the courage of participants, understanding that the road to recovery is long and challenging.

Treatment includes testing, individual counseling and group therapy. Participants must also hold a job and keep regular attendance in a recovery 12-step program. A case manager monitors their progress and checks in frequently, ensuring and assisting participants as needed. Participants must also attend regular court hearings where they check in with the drug court Commissioner. These hearings allow participants to voice their concerns, explain any missed meetings or tests and ask for changes to the program.

The program lasts different lengths for different offenders but will not exceed two years. Commissioners may terminate the program for the following reasons:

  • Warrants or new arrests
  • Missing drug tests
  • Failure to cooperate with treatment
  • Threats of violence against program personnel
  • Missed court appearance

Consider legal counsel

Those facing drug charges have found success with the services of a lawyer familiar with criminal defense. Even an assigned public defender should understand the basics of Missouri drug courts and help work with personnel, so that participants can focus on recovery and community.