Specialty Courts

Adult Felony Drug Court

Adult Felony Drug Court, a division of the Alachua County Department of Court Services, provides pretrial diversion to individuals who have been arrested and charged with substance abuse related offenses. It provides an alternative to incarceration and is based on a therapeutic rather than a punitive model.

Adult Felony Drug Court provides the following services: group and individual therapy, acupuncture/mediation therapy, support groups, random drug testing, and case management. The philosophy of this program is that providing rehabilitation for individuals with substance abuse problems will curb recidivism.

The average length of Adult Felony Drug Court is 12-18 months. Successful completion will result in the participant's charges being nolle prossed by the Office of the State Attorney.

Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court is a partnership between the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court, Department of Children and Families, defense attorneys, State Attorney's Office, Alachua County Court Services, and treatment providers that work with defendants arrested for misdemeanor offenses who are mentally ill or developmentally disabled. By providing defendants access to the least restrictive treatment, training, and support services necessary to reduce recidivism and ensure public safety, the program is designed to divert the mentally ill and developmentally disabled defendants from jail and to expedite legal case processing through the criminal justice system.

Defendants are referred to Mental Health Court by Judges, Alachua County Court Services, defense attorneys, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, mental health providers, and the Forensic Program Director at the Alachua County Jail. Defendants accepted into the program must have been diagnosed with an Axis I mental health illness or a development disability, who have been arrested on a non-violent misdemeanor charge.

Participation in Mental Health Court Program is voluntary.  The average length of Mental Health Court is four to six months. Upon successful completion of Mental Health Court, the charges will be dismissed and the criminal case closed.

Felony Forensic (916) Court

Felony Forensic Court is a partnership between the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court, Office of the State Attorney, Office of the Public Defender, Clerk’s Office, Department of Corrections, defense attorneys, and treatment providers to ensure that mentally ill defendants are effectively managed by the criminal justice system.  It works with felony defendants that have been found to be Incompetent to proceed, Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity, and defendants that are on probation with mental health conditions.  It ensures that their criminal case is resolved as quickly as possible, and schedules ongoing court hearings to review their progress in mental health treatment. 

Veterans Treatment Court

Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) is a partnership between the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Alachua County Court Services, State Attorney’s Office, Office of the Public Defender, treatment providers, and other community stakeholders. The Court accepts military veterans and service members arrested for certain non-violent felonies and misdemeanors. Circuit Judge Phillip A. Pena presides over Veterans Treatment Court.

Veterans Treatment Court is available to eligible veterans as a pre-trial diversion program or as a post-plea program. Both tracks utilize a treatment-based, holistic approach focused on the particular needs of veterans. Participants are linked to appropriate tools and services in the community to provide support as needed after the program has been completed. Mentors form a major component of the program; every participant receives a veteran mentor who acts as a source of information and support during the course of the program. The average length of Veterans Treatment Court is 12-14 months. Additonal documents for Veterans Treatment Court can be found on Judge Phillip A. Pena's webpage.

You may contact the Veterans Treatment Court Mentor Coordinator, Jim Yakubsin, at (352) 222-8837 (cell) or yakmarine@aol.com.

Criminal Justice, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Grant (CJMHSAG)

CJMHSAG is a grant that Meridian Behavioral Healthcare receives from the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). The grant is dedicated for services in Alachua County and part of a statewide program known as the CJMHSAG Reinvestment Grant Program. The purposes of this grant are to help counties plan, implement, or expand initiatives that increase public safety, avert increased spending on criminal and juvenile justice systems, and improve the accessibility and effectiveness of treatment services for adults and juveniles who have a mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder and who are in, or at risk of entering, the criminal justice system.
Additional information can be found here.

For more information on any of the Specialty Courts offered in the Eighth Judicial Circuit, please call
 Sherry Browne, Specialty Courts Manager, at (352) 384-3094 or via email at brownes@circuit8.org