The role of the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office in Drug Court is limited, despite being the first office involved in determining Drug Court eligibility, for those arrested and facing drug-related charges.
Each individual, who is charged with a non-dealing, non-violent, drug-related offense, is evaluated for participation in Drug Court. To be eligible, an individual must meet the following minimum requirements:
- Monroe County residency;
- For those charged with a felony Operating While Intoxicated, a prior OWI felony conviction;
- For other felonies, substance abuse must be at the root of the crime. In Monroe County, most substance abuse felonies involve marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines and Schedule 4 controlled substances such as painkillers or anti-anxiety drugs.
Once an individual’s eligibility is determined, the decision is sent to the Court. If Drug Court eligible, the individual will appear at an Initial Appearance Hearing, held each Wednesday morning in Drug Treatment Court, presided over by the Honorable Judge Mary Ellen Diekhoff. If an individual wishes to participate in Drug Court, a deputy prosecutor will appear at the Change of Plea Hearing held each Thursday morning. At this hearing, a guilty plea is entered and the individual is sentenced to comply with the terms of Drug Court.
At a minimum, an individual will participate in Drug Court for two years. One year of continued sobriety is required before graduating from the program. If an individual successfully completes the program, the prosecutor will formally dismiss the case. If an individual fails to comply with the terms of Drug Court, his or her participation in the program can be extended or terminated.
If terminated from the Drug Court program the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office, operating under post plea sentencing, in which a guilty plea was entered at the Change of Plea Hearing, will proceed with sentencing which usually includes a prison term.
A representative of the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office is one of the voting members on the Drug Court team. Other members include a team coordinator, a public defender, the Drug Court judge, a drug treatment professional and a police officer.