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Monograph: Critical Issues for Defense Attorneys in Drug Courts

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2023
94 pages

This document provides an updated reference guide for current or prospective criminal defense attorneys who practice in drug courts, as well as for policy makers or other professionals working with drug treatment courts.


This revised monograph serves to update the previous, original edition published in 2003. It seeks to act as a reference guide for current or prospective criminal defense attorneys working in drug courts, and provides relevant information to policy makers or other professionals working to improve, implement, or design treatment courts in their jurisdictions. This document provides the background that defense counsels need in order to be effective advocates, while also supporting successful programs. The document is organized into 15 main chapters, some of which are followed by practice guidance that is intended as a quick summary and reference to the background chapter. Those 15 chapters are: The Role of the Defense Attorney; Professionalism in a Multidisciplinary Team; Practice Guidance—Professionalism, Communication, and Collaboration; Ethical Considerations in Drug Courts; Practice Guidance—Ethical Issues; Legal Issues in Drug Courts; Practice Guidance—Legal Issues; Practice Guidance for Legal Challenges to Drug Testing; Treatment; Equity and Inclusion; Practice Guidance—Equity and Inclusion; Policy Considerations; Training; Understanding Burnout and Compassion Fatigue in Defense Attorneys; and Practice Guidance—Professional Resiliency. The document seeks to help defense counsels to be able to successfully practice in drug courts without sacrificing ethical, legal, or practical duties that they have in traditional criminal courts.

Date Published: April 1, 2023