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What is Wellness Court?

Have you faced a misdemeanor drug or alcohol-related charge? If convicted, you could end up spending time behind bars and having to pay hefty fines, among various other penalties. Thankfully, the state understands that some individuals facing these kinds of charges benefit from therapy rather than punishment. That is why certain offenders in Alaska may apply to have their cases moved to Wellness Court.

Wellness Court is, in short, court-ordered rehabilitation. Its purpose is to reduce jail overcrowding, end addictive tendencies and help participants achieve a better quality of life.

Why consider Wellness Court?

There are a number of reasons why you might want to consider applying for Wellness Court. First, it can help you achieve sobriety, which can have a positive impact on all aspects of your life. Second, while in the program, you may qualify for financial assistance to help you cover your basic needs. Finally, third, it can greatly reduce the criminal penalties associated with your offense.

What does the program involve?

In order to keep your case from criminal court, you have to participate fully in and successfully complete the Wellness Court program. The program is intense and requires the participant to:

  • Submit to an assessment
  • Attend all substance abuse treatment meetings
  • Submit to regular drug and alcohol testing
  • Keep in contact with a case manager
  • Participate in any extra ordered therapies
  • Maintain sobriety
  • Stay active in the program for 18 months
  • Attend all scheduled court hearings

Throughout the treatment program, the court will receive a report of one’s status. If, at any point, a participant is not completing all the necessary requirements, a judge can remove that participant from treatment and send the case back to criminal court for prosecution.

Am I eligible?

Wellness Court is for low-level offenders who want help with their drug or alcohol addiction. It is not for those convicted of felonies or violent crimes. Legal counsel will be able to go over eligibility requirements and help you determine if this is a good fit for your case.

While, ideally, the goal when fighting a criminal charge, whether it is drug or alcohol-related, is to have the charges dismissed, in cases where that is not possible, seeking to minimize the consequences is the next best thing. Wellness Court is one way to reduce the negative impacts of a criminal charge on your life while helping you move forward in a positive direction.