New Jersey Court Records
How Do New Jersey Specialty Courts Work?
New Jersey specialty courts operate in a nonconventional manner. In the state of New Jersey, they are considered drug courts. The New Jersey drug court is a specialized court set up to help non-violent offenders, who have moderate to severe substance use disorder, go through the justice system without going to jail. By law, the drug court has limited jurisdiction and can only handle cases of offenders who meet specific eligibility criteria under NJ Stat § 2C:35–14.2.
Generally, the defendant must not have a criminal history and must pass a professional diagnostic assessment by a court-assigned substance abuse evaluator. A substance abuse evaluator will determine the offender’s clinical eligibility while the prosecutor will determine legal eligibility based on the offender’s criminal history. If deemed eligible, offenders must commit to an intensive and highly specialized form of a recovery program. The offender must also regularly appear in court, report to their probation officer, and pass routine drug tests as requirements for resolving outstanding criminal charges.
There is a drug court in each of the 16 judicial vicinages in New Jersey. These courts are part of the criminal division of the Superior Court. A team of judges, court staff, attorneys, probation officers, and substance abuse evaluators works together to run the New Jersey drug court program. These officials also support and monitor a participant’s recovery through supervision, incentives, and sanctions.
The drug court programs in New Jersey were created based on the following tenets:
- Collaboration between the judiciary, law enforcement, social services, and community-based organizations to find a constructive discipline for offenders;
- Using a standardized assessment to identify non-violent offenders who are eligible for the program;
- Training program staff in substance abuse and recovery issues related to providing aid in a non-adversarial atmosphere;
- Using incentives to encourage recovery goals and using sanctions to deter participants from non-compliant behaviors;
- Continuous training and education for drug court staff; and,
- Ongoing evaluation of the program and deploying reforms when necessary
The drug court program is rigorous. Participants must fulfill their enrollment terms, including frequent drug testing, court appearances, and commitment to treatment for chemical dependence. This design supports the recovery process and allows supervisors to meet dissidence with sanctions or reinstate criminal proceedings. Thus, the drug court program enjoyed such tremendous success since, upon inception that the New Jersey Judiciary made the program mandatory in 2017.
According to a report by the New Jersey Judiciary, only 6.8 percent of drug court graduates were convicted for new indictable crimes within three years of graduation, compared to 40% of non-graduates. The drug court program happens in four phases spread over two years. Participants must meet all the goals before graduating, making the party eligible for the expungement of records.
The following is a list of the location and contact information of Superior Courts in New Jersey: