What are Oklahoma Specialty Courts?
Located in the United States’ central region, Oklahoma is a state with an effective court system for maintaining law and order. The trial courts include worker’s compensation court of existing claims, a court of tax review, district courts, and the municipal courts. The district and municipal courts are the two primary courts that handle cases involving criminal and civil matters. However, the municipal courts in Oklahoma have limited jurisdiction over criminal cases.
Due to civil and criminal cases’ complexity and diversity, Oklahoma developed special court programs running under specialty courts’ jurisdiction. Such courts may also fall under the jurisdiction of district courts. Unlike the conventional court system involving penalties or jail time, specialty courts offer qualified non-violent offenders the opportunity to choose a treatment program to avoid incarceration. These programs are under strict judicial monitoring and involve frequent drug or alcohol tests to boost total abstinence probabilities. Graduates of specialty court programs have exhibited a lower recidivism rate than offenders who completed standard probation or finished a sentence.
Failure to comply with the specialty court program’s terms and conditions may attract the court’s sanctions. Notwithstanding, incentives are also offered to successful participants that adhere to full compliance. According to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, 73 out of the 77 counties in Oklahoma have drug courts. At times, the drug court may not grant admission, and the case will be returned to the initial court to proceed as usual for any criminal matter. The types of specialty courts that exist in Oklahoma include:
Juvenile Drug Court: Under the 2014 Oklahoma Statutes Title 10A. Chapter 2 2–507, a hearing must be conducted to assess a juvenile’s eligibility for the juvenile court program. Other factors considered are:
- The juvenile’s appropriateness to be placed in a drug court under the rule of subsection A of section 2–2–506,
- Verdicts and recommendations from the investigation of the juvenile court,
- Availability of a suitable treatment plan
The juvenile court program takes up to 6 months or less, and it involves screening tests, support groups, and periodic mental assessment.
DUI Court: Traffic infraction offenders are subject to the wrath of the law in a district court. Apart from fines or jail time, violators may also have the driver’s license suspended or revoked. Traffic offenders issued a Driving Under Influence (DUI) ticket by the high patrol in Oklahoma will visit the hearing DUI court. According to the 2014 Oklahoma Statutes Title 47. Motor Vehicles 6–212.2, the completion of alcohol and drug assessment as well as evaluation is required. The statute stipulates that at any point in time an individual’s alcohol or substance-related conviction is reflected upon by the Department of Public Safety (DPS), the offender shall partake in a drug and alcohol evaluation and assessment by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
The DUI court’s goal is to achieve permanent drug or alcohol abstinent participants through the partnership of relevant agencies such as the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) and the Department of Public Safety (DPS). A review of criminal history and past drug use or drinking behaviors determines eligibility and referral to the DUI school follows. Accepted referrals will have offenders enrolled in an Alcohol and Drug Substance Abuse Course (ADSAC). To obtain more information, contact the ODMHSAS ADSAC programs on the telephone number (405) 248–9324.
Mental Health Court: The mental health court has exclusive jurisdiction and combines cognitive therapy with criminal law. Cases transferred to the mental health court are legal actions in which the apprehended suspect shows mental illness signs. Mental health courts in Oklahoma devised a unique program using highly coordinated systems to treat psychologically challenged criminals. The primary purpose of mental health courts is to guarantee public safety. Mental health programs also help reduce repetitive crimes committed by offenders with mental illness in the criminal justice system.
Participants in this program will engage in therapy sessions involving probation officers, mental health providers, and local community representatives. For criminals with an unstable psyche, cognitive treatment is more effective than prison, which is why the state of Oklahoma prioritizes this program for lawbreakers with mental issues. Treatments in mental health programs may include medications, counseling sobriety, and other interventions. Successful participants may enjoy records expungement from the Oklahoma criminal record system for the offenses committed against the state’s law.
Family Drug Court: Family drug courts employ personal interviews and rigorous screening tests to assess eligible candidates. Furthermore, family drug courts handle cases of child abuse or neglect by parents with mental problems. To accomplish family reunification, the family court takes care of issues associated with parents’ substance abuse. The court provides a nurturing and safe setting for children while simultaneously treating the parents’ drug or alcohol abuse behavior. The Oklahoma Statutes Title 10A. Children and Juvenile Code 1–4–713 indicate that the staff of the family drug court treatment shall assess the family or neglected child to ascertain if:
- Reunification with the parent, parents, or legal guardian can be the permanency plan in the child’s’ best interest;
- The parent, parents, or legal guardian’s drug or alcohol addiction is significant to the child’s abuse or neglect.
Veteran’s Drug Court: Veterans are respected US citizens, and there are over 47,000 active service members who have currently or formerly served in the US military in Oklahoma alone. Asides this, the State of Oklahoma is also home to three air force bases, two army bases, and one Coast Guard Institute. The high rate of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and high suicide subject to substance abuse among veterans has led to the creation of this specialized docket, thereby providing a suitable health treatment for the veteran population in Oklahoma. A DD–214 request will be submitted to the Department of Veterans Affairs by the veteran’s drug court to begin a drug treatment program with hopes of leading such veterans to have productive lives.
The supreme court is the highest in Oklahoma’s judicial system, and interested individuals can retrieve records under the supreme court jurisdiction in electronic formats. The case files may contain information on specialty court cases as well.
Remerge: Oklahoma made another specialized docket tailored to the needs of the female criminals who are mothers or are pregnant facing incarceration charges. This diversion program prioritizes an alternative to jail time by addressing mental illness, trauma, and substance abuse. During the treatment process, rewards for participants who display efficacious potentials include employment, housing, and charge dismissal. The remerge program encourages and offers female criminals to avoid prison lockups and make such defendants crime-free and a productive citizen of the United States of America.
Parties can find the locations of DUI, drug, and mental health courts in Oklahoma on the Oklahoma judicial website.