Problem-Solving Courts (“PSC”) are a type of criminal court that focus on treating the illness or disability of the people involved.
PSCs generally focus on a single area of need, including:
- drug-abuse in both minors and adults,
- driving under the influence (“DUI”), and
- mental illness.
For defendants, participating in a PSC program is usually a good alternative to traditional sentencing and punishment.
PSCs are usually only available to people who have been charged with nonviolent offenses. Also, the court handling the case must agree to send the case to a PSC. PSCs are used instead of a normal sentence like fines and jail time.
PSC Drug Treatment
The most common PSC provides addiction treatment services to help defendants with drug or alcohol related charges. PSCs help avoid detention.
For example, a person charged with felony possession of heroin would face a minimum of 13 years in prison. Instead, the court could order them to go to a PSC and do 30 months of intense probation, including:
- drug treatment
- frequent check-ins with program officials,
- regular court appearances and drugs screens, and
- meetings with Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
For minors, the court could also order electronic monitoring rather than detention. This monitoring would end on completing the program.
Here is a List of participating drug courts.
PSC Veteran Treatment
PSCs often work with veterans in the criminal justice system who may suffer from some combination of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), other psychological disabilities, or alcohol/drug abuse issues as a result of serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. PSCs generally work collaboratively with the Veterans’ Association, the Public Defender’s Office, and the community.
Here is a List of participating veterans courts
PSC Mental Health Treatment
PSCs sometimes focus on mental health treatment. Participants may be identified through standard mental health screening or they can opt to voluntarily participate in the treatment program.
Common Questions for participants:
How can I participate in a PSC as a defendant?
Although it isn’t available to everyone, participation in a PSC can be handled in one of two ways:
Request and application to the PSC by the defendant and the defendant’s attorney
The PSC can recommend participation based on mitigating circumstances
Will a PSC decision still appear on my record?
Yes. In most cases, your record will still show an arrest or conviction even if you participate in a PSC. You may, however, receive a lighter sentence if you successfully complete an agreed-upon PSC sentence. Once a PSC sentence has been completed, you can still seal your record after enough time has passed.