How does a Denver Drug Court Sentence Work?

The Denver Drug Court is an alternative to criminal prosecution or in some cases a worse conviction or sentence. Similar to Denver’s specialized DUI program, the drug court deals solely in these type of offense. If you were charged with felony drug possession, the Denver DA’s Office will screen you and your case for eligibility into Drug Court.

If the you are a first–time offender and it appears that the drugs possessed were for personal use, the drug court may be recommended. In limited circumstances, it may also an alternative for possession with intent or distribution cases. If you are charged with possessing a large amount of drugs (over 25 grams), or you have an extensive criminal history, you may not be accepted into drug court, and instead will be prosecuted in district court on the felony charges.

If you are screened and accepted into drug court, you will appear in court and are offered the program in a plea deal. In order to participate in drug court, you must plead guilty to the original charge or a lesser charge. Typically, deferred sentences or misdemeanor drug charges are offered as an alternative to the original felony drug charge. When you are sentenced for the lesser offense, you will be placed on probation and required to complete the drug court program.

Denver’s Drug Court has three phases. The sanctions for noncompliance with Denver Drug Court supervision vary. These can range from incarceration to increased urine screens, increased treatment, a regression in phases, and increased public service hours.

Phase One includes the following:

  • A minimum of eight to ten urine screens per month;
  • A drug treatment program;
  • Regularly scheduled court hearings;
  • Regularly scheduled meetings with a probation officer;

Once phase one is completed, you may move to phase two only if you have 90 consecutive days of clean urine screens, no missed urine screens for 60 consecutive days, compliance with the treatment program, and are otherwise compliant with the terms and conditions of the probation.

Phase two requires a minimum of four to five urine screens a month, participation in a treatment program, regularly scheduled court review hearings, and compliance with all terms of probation, including community service. In order to move to phase three, you must have 90 days of clean urine screens, be in compliance with your substance abuse treatment program, and be enrolled in a community service program.

Phase three consists of urine screens two to three times a month, participation in a substance abuse treatment program, attendance at all regularly scheduled appearances in court, completion of all ordered community services hours, and compliance with all other conditions of probation.

Once you completes phase three, you graduate assuming there are 120 consecutive days of clean screens. Upon completion of the Drug Court requirements, a graduation ceremony is held.

Whether to accept a drug court sentence is a decision that should not be made without the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. There can be positives and negatives to entering the Denver Drug Court program.