We have included basic Sarasota County Drug Court Information that you will need to know to be successful while in Drug Court. If you have any questions, please ask your primary counselor. It is also good to know that some rules and practices change from time to time.
Welcome to Sarasota County Drug Court. This handbook is designed to answer any questions you may have and to help guide you through the Drug Court process. Drug Court staff understand you may be somewhat unsure about your decision, but we are here to help you successfully reach your goal.
The Sarasota County Drug Court has been enhanced to help people with substance abuse issues, address co-occurring disorders and/or health issues when they are released from jail.
You have been offered Drug Court because you have been arrested and your criminal behavior has been determined to be drug related. In other words, you have a substance abuse problem, and it is contributing to your criminal behavior.
Drug Court provides judicial supervision while giving you an opportunity to receive treatment for your substance abusive behavior. In essence, the Drug Court programs are designed to help you obtain a crime-free and drug-free lifestyle.
This handbook provides an overview of the program, rules, goals and expectations. If there is anything that you do not understand or have questions about, do not be afraid to ask a Drug Court staff member for clarification.
As a Drug Court participant, you will be expected to follow the instructions given by the Judge and Treatment team. Welcome to Sarasota County Drug Court! We wish you all the best!
The Sarasota County Drug Court Program consists of a four-phase intervention program for substance abusive adults who have committed non-violent felony or misdemeanor crimes. Your participation in the Drug Court Program is completely voluntary; you will determine whether you are successful.
Each phase of Drug Court is designed to help you confront and overcome various obstacles in your treatment. As you advance in phases, your program requirements will decrease, but your personal requirements will increase. Throughout the phases, two requirements remain constant: to be crime free and drug free. These are two non-negotiables in the program.
Sarasota Drug Court is designed to be completed in one year, but this time may be prolonged due to lack of progress in the program. Drug Court participants will be required to reach certain milestones to move from one phase to another. These requirements will be reviewed by you and your assigned primary counselor. Once you have reached certain milestones, it is important that you maintain these milestones so that you do not add time to your stay in Drug Court.
Drug Court is a hybrid of judicial supervision and treatment. As a result, you will be required to report before the court on a regularly scheduled basis while also participating in treatment. It is important that you talk with your assigned counselor to schedule all your appointments, including group treatment, AA/NA meetings, one-to-one (1:1) treatment, urine testing, as well as court sessions. Completion of these responsibilities will result in you maintaining your freedom as well as your progression through the program.
In addition to this, those who are in Phase II, will become part of the Silver team, while those in Phases III and IV will be placed on the Gold team. The Silver and Gold teams are called first during the court session and are allowed to leave prior to the end of the court session. Those who are first time Gold team members will also receive a waiver of the Drug Court fees for one month. Drug Court participants who do not fulfill all scheduled program requirements, may receive a sanction. Sanctions may range from extra groups, meetings, or urine tests to community service work or jail.
When you enter into Drug Court, you are assigned a primary counselor. Your counselor and your case manager are your “go to” people. This is the person who will make recommendations to the Drug Court Team regarding your progress in the program. Your primary counselor will schedule individual one-on-one (1:1) treatment sessions where you will discuss issues related to your substance abusing behavior. You will also be provided a schedule of activities and requirements. It is your responsibility to plan and complete all required program activities. It is very important for you to call our office if you are having problems completing your requirements. This may not keep you from receiving a sanction, but your cooperation will be taken into consideration.
Drug testing is a key component of Drug Court, and you will be required to provide urine samples on a random basis. If your number is called that day, you will be required to come in and provide a urine sample. Failure to report will be viewed as an unexcused drop and will be treated as a positive urine sample. Once again, if you have unforeseen problems, do not hesitate to call and let us know. As previously stated, calling in does not relieve one of his or her duties, but it will be taken into consideration if any sanctions are given.
In addition to drug testing, substance abuse counseling is also a key component in the Drug Court process. Groups are held at various times during the day to provide participants with opportunities to complete their requirements. It is your responsibility to find out which groups best fits your schedule.
Welcome to the Sarasota County Drug Court Program. This program is designed to assist non-violent substance abusers that are charged with one or more specific felonies or misdemeanors. Participants are required to attend court to advance to Phase II of the program. Court is held on the following days and times at the locations listed below.
Drug Court hearings are held once a week on Tuesdays at 10AM in Courtroom 3A (on the 3rd floor) of the Lynn N. Silvertooth Judicial Center, 2002 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, FL 34237. Free parking is available in the parking garage, two blocks east of the judicial center.
By the time you are given this instruction sheet you should have already been told when and where to report to start in the Drug Court Program. Call one of the following Drug Court Administration or Supervision Staff to confirm the details of your appointment as soon as you arrive home and continue making the effort to contact them until you have actually spoken to one of them. On some occasions, there may be a need to reschedule your orientation appointment.
You should become well acquainted with your treatment counselors. It is very important for participants to show up drug and alcohol free. You will be tested frequently.
1751 Mound St., Suite 101B, Sarasota, FL 34236
941‑861‑8107; Fax 941-316-1637
Main Line: 941‑861‑8120
UA Drop Line: 941‑861‑8189
Drug Court, Opioid Court, Veteran’s Court Probation Officers
941‑361‑6322 or 941‑918‑2780
The following are terms commonly used by people in the Drug Court Program. Some of you have never heard many of the terms or may recognize them in a different setting. The purpose of this section is to help you understand some of the words used and understand many of the required activities of the program. If you have any questions, please contact a Drug Court staff member for clarification.
Case Management: Case management is when a Drug Court staff member works to make sure you can get services you need beside group and individual sessions. Case management includes, housing, employment, education, anger management and other services. While Drug Court does not provide these services directly, they will help you succeed not only in Drug Court, but in life. Our case managers will work with your primary counselor or other Drug Court staff in obtaining these services if available.
Confidentiality: Confidentiality means privacy and refers to not talking about program issues outside the Drug Court setting. This means if you hear someone say something in a group setting about an issue they have, you cannot discuss this outside the Drug Court office. It simply means “what happens in Drug Court, stays in Drug Court”.
Counseling: Counseling occurs when you talk about your problems or issues related to your substance abuse behavior. Counseling may happen in a group or alone during one-on-one sessions with your primary counselor. In each phase, you will be required to attend a certain amount of counseling groups and one-on-one sessions. Your primary counselor is the person with whom you discuss issues during your participation in the program.
Fees: Fees are the costs you pay to participate in Drug Court. As a condition of this diversion program, each participant in Drug Court pays $15 per week to the Clerk of Court to participate in the Sarasota Drug Court program. Payments are made to the Clerk of the Court, at 2000 Main Street (Old Historical Court House). You may need a photo ID and my pay in the form of a check, money order, cash or credit card. You are to turn in your receipt to the treatment court office by 12pm on Friday of each week. Participants may perform public service hours in lieu of payment at a rate of $15 per hour.
Groups: Groups are when two or more people meet with a counselor or therapist to discuss issues related to their substance abuse behavior. Issues may include family, career, education, free time, etc. In each phase, each participant is required to perform a certain number of groups each week. Participants are required to attend three groups weekly.
Nurse Practitioner: A nurse practitioner is a medical professional with an advanced nursing degree. The nurse practitioner can diagnose certain psychological disorders as well as provide medication to treat these disorders. The nurse practitioner may also refer the participant to a specialist to receive more specific treatment. All participants will be required to see the nurse practitioner for at least one appointment.
Phases: Phases are different levels a participant goes through in the program. There are four phases in the Sarasota County Drug Court. Each phase has certain requirements a person must complete to advance to the next level and finally graduate from the program. As you advance in phases, many of the requirements decrease.
Probation: Probation is a form of legal supervision where a person who has committed a crime is allowed to continue to live in the community while being supervised by an Officer of the FL Department of Corrections. While on probation, there are certain restrictions placed upon the person which the officers will go over with you. If you break or violate any of these restrictions, you may be violated and placed in jail. Your Probation Officer (PO) will go over all requirements with you during your first visit with him or her.
Public Defender’s Office: The Public Defender’s Office (PD) provides legal representation to people who are unable to pay for a private lawyer. Many Drug Court participants are represented by the PD’s office. If you are unsure if you are represented by the PD’s office, please discuss this issue with the Drug Court Judge to make sure you are represented legally.
Public Service: Public service is when you work at a local, non-profit organizations to complete certain program requirements. Public service may be used as a sanction or as an incentive. As a sanction, it may be assigned due to not completing certain phase requirements or the failure to complete other phase requirements. As an incentive, it may be assigned to help a participant pay their fees in the event of the loss of a job or inability to pay.
Recovery Meetings: Recovery meetings, also known as self-help or AA/NA meetings, are held at various locations in the community. All Drug Court participants are required to attend a minimum of one meeting weekly. You may choose the meeting which works best for you. This is also where you will find your sponsor for the program. These meetings are called “outside” meetings and are to be logged and turned in to your counselor.
Relapse Group: Relapse group is a specialized group for Drug Court participants who have a positive urine test. Participants are required to attend relapse groups whether or not a jail sanction is received.
Sanction: A sanction is an action the Judge takes in relation to your progress or lack of progress in the Drug Court program. If a person tests positive on a urine test, the sanction may include public service, jail or some other action the Judge orders. The sanction is in response to your progress in the program.
Sponsor: A sponsor is someone in recovery from drugs and/or alcohol abuse or addiction and has at least two years “clean” time. The sponsor is someone you meet at a recovery group who agrees to help you when you are having problems keeping away from drugs or alcohol. Your sponsor must call Drug Court to let us know he or she has agreed to work with you. Your sponsor must be the same gender as you.
Veteran’s Coordinator: A A Veteran’s Coordinator is someone who can provide referrals and outreach service to Drug Court participants that are veterans. The Veteran’s Coordinator is available to assist with various veteran specific needs.
Some of the information in this section is found in other parts of this handbook, but this information is so important, we want you to be able to quickly access it so that you will know what to do in the event you are prescribed or use certain valid medications.
It is important that you tell us when you are prescribed any medications by your doctor or when you are taking any over-the-counter medication. Following this rule helps us gauge your willingness to receive treatment and will also help us not assign a positive to a urine sample that you submit.
Illegal drugs are not permitted and are not to be taken by any Drug Court participant. This includes drugs such as cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs that are not yours, marijuana, kratom and other manufactured substances, etc.
Alcohol, while legal, is not allowed to be consumed by Drug Court participants. Use of alcohol violates Drug Court program rules, and you will be sanctioned for its use.
Psychiatric medications are allowed, but you must see our contracted Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) to ensure you are taking your medication properly. The ARNP will be able to answer any questions you have about your medications and possible side effects and may also be able to offer a more affordable alternative.
Other prescription medications such blood pressure medication, antibiotics and such are allowed, but once again, it is important that you provide us with a copy of your most recent prescription, so we are aware that you are taking these medications.
Over-the-counter medications are allowed, but you must communicate with staff as some over-the-counter products are banned from the program, i.e., Nyquil, Sudafed, mouthwash. You must call staff and bring in the bottles or boxes ASAP for all such products. Many over-the-counter medications are abused for their effects.
It should also be noted, the use of over-the-counter medications are for short-term use. If you have persistent symptoms, we recommend you see a doctor or the ARNP for a more complete diagnosis.
Graduation & Prescribed Narcotics: While the Drug Court recognizes there are times when a physician may prescribe narcotics to their patients, the goal of Drug Court is to help you learn how to function without dependence upon drugs and alcohol. In light of this philosophy, if you receive a prescription for narcotic medication within 90 days of your graduation, you must have at least 30 days of clean time prior to graduating from the Drug Court. The risk for abuse of narcotics is too great for the program to allow you to leave while utilizing these medications. It is imperative that you request a non-narcotic alternative when you visit your doctor.
Minimum of 30 days
Minimum of 90 days
Minimum of 180 days
Minimum of 60 days
The following rules and regulations will apply to all persons involved in the Sarasota County Drug Court Program:
Clients are responsible for:
Please review this packet from time to time, it can help you progress through the program and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact a staff member to answer any of your questions. You must also remember, the program changes from time to time, so this is a guide to help you understand the basics of the program. Some things never change, such as you making sure you complete all program requirements and testing negative on your urine samples.
The staff of the Sarasota County Drug Court wishes you much success during your time in Drug Court and in your life. It is our hope that you will use Drug Court as an opportunity to truly turn your life around and not simply go through the motions to get charges dismissed. While that is your right, the fact that you are in a Court Intervention Program, suggests that you may have some serious issues to confront in your life and that is why Drug Court exists, to help you become crime free and drug free and to be able to return to society as one who contributes and not as one who causes harm.
Unexpected closures of the Treatment Court Office and special announcements will be on the recorded drop line message and updated daily. The drop line number is 941‑861‑8189. You must call every day by 12PM.
Courtroom 3A, Lynn N. Silvertooth Judicial Center, 2002 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, FL 34237
Monday-Friday: 7am – 5pm
Drop Line: 941‑861‑8189
Monday-Friday (Sarasota): 7am – 5pm
Must arrive at office by 4:30pm
Monday-Friday (Venice): 8:30am – Noon
Judge: Hon. Lon Arend
Drug Court Program Director: Rachel Lane
Opioid Court Case Manager: Dori Donovan
Drug Court Case Manager: Diedra Harper, Casey de la Rosa
State Attorney's Office: Craig Schaeffer
Public Defender's Office: Terry Drake
Probation and Parole: Ian Lear, Amanda Hernandez
Lab Techs: Carlos Tavera (Lead), Rona Grant, Kevin Lee
Counselors: Mark Brock, Laura Lash, Eliabel Ramirez & Thomas Quigley
Clinical Supervisor: Brittany Henson