Virginia Beach announces start of new drug treatment court

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Virginia Beach has announced that they will be starting a drug treatment court, with the goal to rehabilitate non-violent drug offenders and addicts, in hopes of providing them with an alternative to prison.

The Virginia Beach Drug Treatment Court (VBCTC) will be used as a way to form better long term behavior in drug offenders, and create a path in the Circuit Court of Virginia Beach system for drug offenders to receive help and rehabilitation.

Colin D. Stolle, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the city of Virginia Beach, announced that the screening process had began on June 1, 2017. Stolle said that the program will select up to ten defendants, and that it will commence as soon as suitable defendants are arrested, recommended for entry, and agree to be part of the program.

“Drug addictions are very difficult to overcome,” said Stolle.  “The VBDTC is designed to be easy to get in and hard to get out."

The VBDTC involves several phases which have specific requirements for advancement.  Incentives and sanctions can be imposed on offenders when necessary.

Offenders will attend the VBDTC Docket in Circuit Court every Thursday at 2 p.m., and will report daily to their treatment provider, must maintain employment, complete community service, must complete homework, may not reside with other drug users, and will undergo frequent random drug testing.

A positive drug screen or violation of a condition of the program can result in a variety of sanctions, including community service, jail time, or expulsion from the program.

In order to qualify for the program, offenders must reside in Virginia Beach, may not have a violent criminal history, may not have any prior convictions for Possession with Intent to Distribute drugs, and must have a previously suspended jail or prison sentence in excess of 18 months.

The selection process begins when an offender violates terms of his or her probation by testing positive for an illegal substance.

Offenders may not be referred to the VBDTC if the basis for their probation violation is a new criminal charge.

Once Probation and Parole determines an offender is qualified for the program, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office does an additional screening. The offender is then evaluated by the Drug Court Team, which is comprised of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Probation and Parole, Department of Human Services, and Circuit Court.

"We hope to equip these offenders with the resources they need to kick their habits and change their entire lifestyle,” said Stole about the new program.

The thorough planning process began in April 2016 when the VBDTC was approved, and it included the following Virginia Beach agencies:  Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Circuit Court (with the guidance of Judge Steven Frucci), Probation and Parole, Community Corrections, Department of Human Services, Public Defender’s Office, Police Department, Sheriff’s Office and City Attorney’s Office.