Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County District Attorney

Drug Court


Many defendants have substance abuse problems. As a result, the courts have offered a program to provide treatment and intervention. Such intervention is best achieved when offenders initially enter the criminal justice system. Drug Court offers educational and employment linkages so defendants will possess the ability to become productive members of the community. Participants are not convicted or sentenced in Drug Court and there are no trials. Eligible participants are deferred from criminal prosecution. Drug Court proceedings are currently presided over by Judge Sarah O’Brien, Branch 16.

Drug Court focuses on non-violent offenders. Cases are referred by an Assistant District Attorney (ADA). Defendants voluntarily agree to participate and receive drug treatment services instead of a sentence. The ADA specifies the length of time in the program. Defendants appear regularly before the judge as a group, who reviews each case with treatment providers and ADA, and discusses the offender’s progress directly with the offender in front of the group. The judge may order the treatment to be modified or may order sanctions for violating treatment requirements (i.e., several days in jail). If an offender successfully completes treatment by staying off drugs, the ADA will move to reduce or dismiss the charges as promised in the contract.


  • Dane County resident.
  • Must be 18 years old.
  • No convictions for violent felony offenses.
  • No pending violent misdemeanor offenses.
  • No weapon used during drug crime charged.
  • Must have identifiable treatment needs, and willingness to address substance use, abuse, or dependence.
  • Must be willing to comply with program expectations.

Program Requirements

  • A plea of guilty or no contest in exchange for potential reduction or dismissal of charges after successful completion of the program.
  • Individualized assessment and alcohol and other substance abuse programming in the Treatment Track; minimum of nine months.
  • A commitment to remain alcohol and drug-free while in the program.
  • Compliance with all program recommendations and requirements.
  • Submission to drug testing.
  • Sanctions for program violations, including jail.
  • Must comply with bail conditions.
  • Must pay program fee in full.

Goals & Benefits

  • To break the cycle of drugs and crime.
  • To reduce jail incarceration for defendants who present a low risk to public safety.
  • To provide a fully integrated and comprehensive treatment program.
  • To enhance personal, academic, and employment abilities for defendants.

For More Information

The Dane County Legal Resource Center has a Drug Court Collection available in their library. There is also a resource guide listing community or web resources on their website.