Circuit Court
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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the Baltimore County Juvenile Drug Court? 

A. The Baltimore County Juvenile Drug Court (BCJDC) is a program operated in partnership between the Circuit Court of Baltimore County, the Department of Juvenile Services, the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Public Defender, the Baltimore County Bureau of Substance Abuse, First Step Inc., the Board of Education, and the Baltimore County Police Department. The BCJDC is a Court-run intensive treatment and supervision program designed to provide the opportunity for you to correct delinquent behavior and address substance abuse problems.

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Q. What happens when I am assigned to the Baltimore County Juvenile Drug Court?

A. After intensive screening and your agreement to participate, the Drug Court Team will make your referral to the Baltimore County Juvenile Drug Court. If you are eligible, an attorney from the Public Defender’s office, or your own attorney will help you to decide whether to enroll in the Drug Court Program. The Juvenile Drug Court Judge must approve you to participate in the Juvenile Drug Court.

 At the time you are approved to participate in the Juvenile Drug Court, a summons will be issued for a review hearing on the Drug Court docket within two weeks. At that time, all of the procedures regarding the Juvenile Drug Court program will be explained to you and your parent/ guardian. The Juvenile Court Judge will conduct regular reviews of your case on at the closest operating Court location to your home.

Ideally, you will be referred for admission to Drug Court as soon after arrest as possible. If you are identified during the screening process, DJS will provide you with information explaining the program along with referrals to the Public Defender’s Office for legal representation. If you express an interest in the program, you will be referred to the Bureau of Substance Abuse or First Step Inc. for an assessment at the earliest available time. If screening cannot be done before arraignment, it will be arranged at the time of arraignment. 

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Q. What’s the difference between the Addictions Counselor and Juvenile Counselor?  (Why do I need two counselors?)

A. The Juvenile Counselor (JC) works only with legal issues and the conditions of your probation. The JC will act as a case manager for you and will coordinate all services needed to ensure that you will be successful. The JC also acts as the liaison between the Juvenile Justice system and the Court. He or she will notify the Court of any issues that require legal action.

The Addictions Counselor is not an employee of the Department of Juvenile Services. The Baltimore County Bureau of Substance Abuse, an agency of the Department of Health, or First Step Inc. employs and supervises each Addictions Counselor or treatment agency. The Addictions Counselor is a clinician who is trained to work with adolescent substance abusers. This person provides all treatment services (group, individual, and family counseling). In addition, the Addictions Counselor will make initial assessments (during the intake interview) and periodic re-evaluations to determine if treatment services are meeting your needs. This counselor may make referrals to outside services, such as mental health counseling or psychiatric services. 

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Q. What are the treatment services provided by the Baltimore County Juvenile Drug Court?

A. You will be required to participate in the following services

  • Weekly Peer Group Counseling: Weekly sessions of group counseling in which you will discuss addiction/dependence issues, coping mechanisms, family life issues, peer relationships, and other topics pertinent to recovery.
  • Individual and Family Counseling as deemed appropriate by the Counselor and stipulated by your individual phase and progress in treatment.
  • Moral Reconation Therapy™: A 12-step program using a Cognitive-Behavioral approach to help teach decision-making and responsible citizenship. Topics include goal-setting, trust, honesty, and change.
  • Referrals to 12-Step Programs: referral to such programs as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, AlAnon, or Codependents Anonymous as appropriate.
  • Non-chemical activities groups: groups that will teach you about alternative activities to substance use.
  • Reward nights: activities designed to be a fun reward for positive behavior change.
  • Any additional counseling services as recommended by the Counselor or Court.

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Q. How long will I participate in the Baltimore County Juvenile Drug Court?

A.  According to the Program Narrative of the BCJDC, the Juvenile Drug Court Treatment Team will maintain “constant contact with the client over a minimum of twelve months.” You will be required to complete all aspects of treatment services prior to discharge.

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Q. What are the criteria for completion of the Baltimore County Juvenile Drug Court?

A. Several criteria that you MUST meet in their entirety in order for you to complete successfully the Baltimore County Juvenile Drug Court program include:

  • Presenting no unexcused absences from counseling, education, or MRT.
  • Presenting no positive drug or alcohol tests for 180 consecutive days.
  • Completing community service hours if assigned.
  • Demonstrating positive response to education or employment goals (this means either working or going to school).         
  • Fulfilling all goals in the master treatment plan.
  • Demonstrating positive adjustment to sober lifestyle in the community.

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Q. Why will I be drug-tested?  How do the tests work?

A. Each client is routinely tested by urinalysis to determine whether s/he is using drugs or alcohol. These tests are both random and monitored. Random means that you may or may not be tested each time you enter the building. For this reason, you should be prepared for urinalysis for each appointment. Monitored implies that your urine specimen collection will be supervised. A counselor of the same sex will watch the specimen collection to make sure that you do not tamper with the specimen in any way. This includes adding chemical adulterants or using a specimen that has been smuggled into the room.

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Q. What drugs are screened in the urine test?

A. The short answer is anything and everything. The Full Screen tests for drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. In addition, you will be tested for alcohol, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter drugs of abuse. 

What happens if the drug screen is positive? Treatment responses and possible sanctions for non-compliance including the submission of a positive urine screen include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Essay or Group Presentation on Investment in Drug Court
  • Community Service
  • Verbal Warning to be posted in treatment chart
  • Increased drug testing
  • Referral to AA/ NA for mandatory attendance
  • Community Detention and mandatory conference between family, treatment counselor, and Juvenile Probation Officer
  • Written paper describing group rule infraction turned in by the next group meeting.
  • Expulsion from group until conference between family, treatment counselor, and Juvenile Probation Officer to resolve behavior issue
  • Imposing a Curfew
  • Electronic monitoring
  • Weekend detention in respite bed
  • Increased reporting or Drug Court attendance
  • Referral to inpatient treatment
  • Movement back to a former treatment phase
  • Removal from Juvenile Drug Court and referral back to juvenile court for disposition hearing
  • Commitment to a State facility or referral to residential counseling

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Q. How many appointments may my I miss?

A. The easy answer is NONE. Circumstances may require you to miss an appointment, and we understand that. Therefore, we may allow one absence as a “freebie”. In order for this one absence to be considered excused, you MUST contact the appropriate person in advance. You MUST contact your Juvenile Counselor for missed probation appointments or MRT™. You MUST contact your Addictions Counselor for missed treatment or group appointments.  Failure to contact the appropriate individual will result in an unexcused appointment.

Further unexcused absences will result in sanctions given by the Juvenile Drug Court Judge based on recommendations made by the entire Drug Court treatment team.

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Q. What is an excused absence?

 A.  An excused absence will only be granted in cases of medical emergencies. Medical emergencies do not include “having headaches” or “not feeling well” and do not include minor illnesses within the family that might complicate transportation. A note from your doctor will be required. 

As described above, the first step in ensuring that your absence is excused will be to contact the appropriate counselor in advance.  Please remember that “no shows” are not only a wasted appointment time that could be used to serve another client, but will also result in sanctions by the Court. 

Furthermore, the Team will not tolerate lack of transportation as an excuse. You are responsible for arranging transportation. All Drug Court offices are accessible by public transportation; therefore, you should become familiar with bus schedules and routes to and from these offices.

While employment is a vital component in your treatment and recovery, your work schedule should be planned to accommodate your treatment schedule. Work will never be considered a valid excuse for a missed appointment. Three days per week is a lot of time to participate in treatment. 

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Q. Can’t I reduce the services?

 A. It is true that three days per week is an intense level of services, which is exactly what we expect to provide. It is our hope that by participating in this intensive level, you will be more likely to experience a successful recovery.

No. Only in special circumstances will you not be required to participate in all aspects of treatment. This is the exception not the rule. 

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Q. How much will this cost me?  Will insurance cover the costs?

A. You will not be required to pay for any of the core services offered by the Baltimore County Juvenile Drug Court. Urinalysis, case management, supervision, group, individual, and family therapy are all covered through outside funding. Additional collateral services may be recommended for you to increase your success. Although every effort will be made to refer you to a no/low cost service, it may be necessary for your insurance or your family to cover the costs of these services. These referrals will be discussed with you in advance so that payment barriers can be addressed.

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Q. What are my rights in treatment?

A. First, you have the right to confidentiality. This means that the treating clinician cannot share any information about your treatment with another individual or agency without prior written consent. When information needs to be shared, your counselor will ask you to sign a Release of Information form detailing the audience and specific information. This confidentiality also applies to your parent or guardian; your counselor will not share information regarding your treatment with you parent or guardian without your consent. 

You have the right to be treated with respect by all representatives of the Baltimore County Juvenile Drug Court. We respect the dignity of all clients, and will not discriminate because of age, race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.

If you have a grievance with the treatment staff, please feel free to voice your concern to the treating clinician. If the concern is not resolved to your satisfaction, your counselor will forward your grievance to the Treatment Supervisor, Coordinator of Adolescent Services, or any other relevant member of the Drug Court Committee.

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Q. Do I need to have an attorney with me for all reviews/ court appearances?

A. Having a lawyer present to represent you is your right and your decision. A lawyer is always a benefit in a courtroom setting, as they can help you to better understand the proceedings and give you options. A lawyer may also advocate your position to the court. There is a public defender assigned to advise and represent Drug Court Participants at no cost. You are encouraged but not required to use these services. If you choose to use private counsel, your attorney will be able to advise you of when and where his or her services are required and or needed.

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 Revised May 9, 2013

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