Everything You Want To Know About Court-Ordered Treatment

Posted by Jackson Bentley on Sep 28, 2018, 8:00:00 AM
Jackson Bentley
Find me on:

According to the National Institute of Justice, there are more than 3,000 drug courts within the United States. These entities help manage and sentence drug offenders to complete court-ordered treatment, work with specialized caseworkers, and undergo randomized and regular drug testing. Court ordered rehab offers individuals an alternative form of sentencing for any kind of drug-related crime, meaning instead of serving prison time they may be able to get the help they need to turn their life around.

A picture of a gavel-They are often used when ruling on court-ordered treatment.

What is Court-Ordered Treatment?

Drug courts everywhere recognize that individuals who commit drug-related crimes may be suffering from the disease of addiction. As such, prison may not be the ideal environment for someone to address the underlying physiological and mental mechanisms that cause addiction. With court-ordered rehab, individuals have the chance to attend rehab, rebuild their lives, build skills, and learn to manage their addiction long term.


The main goal of court-ordered treatment as far as the law is concerned is the complete rehabilitation of the offender, ensuring that the individual does not graduate to more serious crimes. It makes sense from a fiscal standpoint because helping an individual to break free from a life of crime can prevent further resources being dedicated to apprehending and punishing that individual.


Who Qualifies for Court-Ordered Treatment?

When ruling in a normal hearing for some type of criminal offense that involves drugs, a court can decide whether or not to order addiction treatment. Individuals may receive court-ordered addiction treatment as part of a criminal sentence during a probationary period, or in lieu of criminal sentencing. An individual may qualify if the following criteria are met:


  • The crime was nonviolent
  • The crime was related to drug dependency or intoxication
  • The court believes that the individual may benefit from drug or alcohol rehab
  • The individual qualifies for a probation sentence


The court will ultimately decide whether treatment is the right course of action by working with addiction professionals and making the ruling on a case by case basis.


How Do You Get Court-Ordered Treatment?

Court-ordered treatment is only available for those already within the penal system. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals works with courts around the nation to facilitate evaluations, transferals, and sentencing for drug-related offenders. Drug courts work to ensure the success of individuals in treatment in addition to the legal and societal obligations mandated by the justice system. The legal and professional members of drug courts include community corrections, defense attorneys, prosecutors, specialized judges, social workers, and more.


In the states of Kentucky and Ohio, individuals can request court-ordered treatment for people outside of active criminal charges. Known as Casey’s Law, this act enables close friends, loved ones, and relatives of addicts to legally mandate people to attend a treatment program. The process involves petitioning a court to judge the severity of the afflicted person’s addiction and rendering a judgment on whether to commit that person and to what extent their treatment should encapsulate.


How Does Court-Ordered Treatment Work?

Court-ordered rehab for drug and alcohol detox can vary from state to state, and even among local jurisdictions. Generally, the model for treatment includes a mandated stay in rehab, drug screening, assessments, education courses, training, and sanctions for any unfulfilled duties and obligations. After completing treatment, offenders will usually be asked to work with a social worker or probation officer to fulfill the remainder of their sentence. Courts generally allow the offender to choose what treatment center they would like to attend. The most common are Inpatient Rehab, Intensive Outpatient (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization (PHP). Each one is characterized by continued care and a structured environment focused on safely withdrawing from substances and teaching life skills to continue with sobriety.


Who Pays for Court-Ordered Treatment?

Each individual who is charged with court-ordered treatment is required to pay for the fees and costs. Rehab can cost multiple thousands of dollars, but fortunately, insurance can help cover some of these costs. Many drug and alcohol rehab centers will work with clients to set up some kind of feasible payment plan, but it’s important to pick a treatment provider that works with your insurance. There may also be other options available such as scholarships and grants.



After the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in 2008, insurance companies could not enforce harsh benefit limitations on people suffering from addiction or mental health disorders. Nowadays, insurance companies are required by law to cover part or all of treatment for addiction, so make sure to call your insurance company and discuss what is available.


Sliding Fee Centers

These types of centers are usually set up by the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services and are aimed at providing affordable treatment for those ordered to attend treatment by the court. Their fees are based on a sliding scale that is dependent on personal income and savings, meaning patients pay what they can instead of a flat rate. In some cases, patients who qualify may not have to pay a thing.


Alternative Court-Ordered Drug Intervention Programs

Some drug courts may sentence individuals to alternative programs in lieu of rehab or jail time. The following are some programs which exist to help individuals get sober, maintain sobriety, manage addiction, and learn to function in daily life.


Accelerated Pretrial Rehabilitation Program

This program is usually made available to those involved in nonviolent crimes or motor vehicle violations. It allows the offender to participate in community service, paying restitution, taking part in a hate crimes diversion program, getting psychiatric or psychological counseling, getting alcohol and/or drug treatment, or taking part in an animal cruelty prevention and education program. The ruling and mandates are determined by the court.


Alcohol /Substance Abuse Education Program

An education program is a type of mandated education for someone charged in a criminal case involving alcohol, drug possession, or driving while under the influence. Participants will usually be asked to complete a 10-15 week alcohol education course in lieu jail time. Usually, this is reserved for minor offenders.


Does Court-Ordered Treatment Work?

Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services shows that mandatory rehab is actually just as effective as voluntary rehab. In one study, participants who completed court-ordered treatment for alcohol and drug dependency reported lower motivation levels at the beginning of treatment, but 5 years later reported the same rates of abstinence, employment, and rearrest as voluntary rehab graduates. Another study by the National Institute of Health found that offenders who were mandated by a court to attend an outpatient treatment program actually had higher completion rates than patients who voluntarily entered the same program. However, this is likely because any individual who is placed in a court-ordered treatment program on drug-related charges is required to complete that program or face criminal charges.


If the program is completed, the charges are dropped and the crime will not show up on the individual’s record. Court-ordered treatment can frequently be an effective means for shocking someone into realizing that they have a problem with substance use. In these kinds of situations, people will get serious about their treatment. While there is no guaranteed successful outcome, the willpower and commitment of the person in recovery increase the odds of positive results.


National Center for Policy Analysis

The National Center for Policy Analysis is an American think tank dedicated to studying policy outcomes. They found that the number of drug courts within the United States had increased from zero in 1988 to more than 2,000 by 2008. The federal government was the major funder for these entities, spending roughly $40 million in the fiscal year of 2009 on them. Some policy advocates believe that diverting money from prisons to drug courts and treatment could actually wind up saving taxpayers money in the long run. These numbers are drawn from 2007 prison statistics.


Do Drug Courts Save Money?

In 2007, there were roughly 2.3 million prisoners in the U.S. costing an average of $44 billion per year. The average annual cost for an inmate was $24,000 individually. More than 60% of those arrested test positive for alcohol or some type of narcotic and more than 50% meet the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder. Estimates place the recidivism rate at more than 50% within three years of release from prison. Professors from the University of Pennsylvania found that drug courts had a compliance rate six times higher than any other method of treatment for criminals with substance use problems, and also were 2-3 times more successful in reducing recidivism, drug use, and unemployment. Studies also reveal that drug users who have children are more likely to complete a drug court program than any other type of treatment.


According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, drug courts could help save costs ranging from $4,000 to more than $12,000 per individual case, averaging out to more than $1.5 million per year. The next savings are calculated in the cost of judges, courtrooms, drug tests, and avoided trials/jail time. Managing a criminal through drug courts as opposed to probation or jail alone is more cost-effective and can lead to more positive life outcomes. In the state of Kentucky, it was found that drug courts cost an average of $3,083 per individual annually while jail cost $9,676 and prison cost $17,194.


According to estimates from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, there are nearly 1.2 million people within the United States criminal justice system who would be eligible for drug court but do not have access. Drug court programs only reach about half of those who qualify while in prison and less than 10% of those arrested who are at risk for drug and alcohol abuse. Given the cost-savings benefit, high success rate, and a greater need for access, drug courts should be considered for greater federal funding and research.


What is Casey’s Law?

Casey’s Law was enacted to allow close friends, loved ones, and relatives of addicts to legally mandate people to attend a treatment program. The process involves petitioning a court to judge the severity of the afflicted person’s addiction and rendering a judgment on whether to commit that person and to what extent their treatment should encapsulate. The length of treatment varies depending on the court, and can range from detox, usually about a week, to full-on treatment which can last from 30-45 days and can include therapy along with mandatory residential confinement. If the patient doesn’t comply with the court order, they could be held in contempt of the court and sentenced to jail time.


Where Does Casey’s Law Come From?

In 2002, at the young age of 2003, Matthew Casey Wellington passed away after entering into a heroin-induced coma. His family had been convinced that when he had hit rock bottom he would finally be convinced to enter rehab, but this did not happen. While it may work for many, this mindset can be a danger to adhere to because it could result in a fatal overdose, like with Casey. It could lead to shared intravenous needle use, resulting in Hepatitis C or HIV. After Casey’s family had done all they could to convince him to go to rehab, they realized that perhaps in some cases, an addict needs a more forceful hand to accept treatment.


Casey’s family lobbied for a law that could mandate substance abuse treatment for addicts too deep into their illness to make the change themselves. Casey’s law , officially known as the Matthew Casey Wethington Act for Substance Abuse Intervention became law on April 9, 2004, in the state of Kentucky. The law was also enacted in the states of Ohio and North Carolina. There are currently multiple other states with pending petitions to add Casey’s Law or similar legislation.


How Does Casey’s Law Work?

If you are seeking to enter a loved one into rehab in Louisville or the surrounding Kentucky area, you may want to look into filing for the use of Casey’s Law. To do so, follow these instructions:


  • Get a copy of the petition from the District Court clerk’s office or here
  • Fill out the petition on their behalf and file it with the District Court clerk here.
  • The court will review your claims made in the petition and will question you under oath.
  • The court will determine if there is probable cause to require treatment for your loved one.
  • If there is probable cause, a judge will appoint an attorney to represent your loved one, require your loved one to be evaluated, and schedule a hearing within 14 days.
  • Your loved one will be notified of the date and purpose of the hearing.
  • Your loved one is evaluated by two qualified health professionals, one being a physician, to determine if your loved one could benefit from treatment.
  • The court will order treatment for anywhere between 60 days and 360 days and can range from detoxification to intensive treatment.


From there, the court will work with you and your loved one to select a treatment center within your price range, work with insurance companies to uncover any coverage options, and oftentimes the treatment center will arrange for pickup and transportation.


In Conclusion

There are a variety of options available if you are seeking court-ordered treatment for a loved one. Only two states, Ohio and Kentucky, currently allow involuntary treatment for individuals outside of the legal system. At Landmark Recovery, or experienced staff has dealt with a wide range of treatment methods and approaches for substance abuse disorders. If you’re seeking rehab in Louisville or the greater Kentucky area and are concerned for the well being of yourself or a loved one abusing substances, reach out to our team and we’ll walk you through the process for enrolling.



Get Help Now



Topics: Rehab

    Recent Posts

    Subscribe Here!