The Orange County Community Court Building has served as a National Community Court Mentor Site since 2014. The building opened to the public in October 2008. In a warm setting, it provides programs and services which promote public safety, reduce recidivism, and enhance the quality of life for our participants and members of the community. The county’s five Mental Health Court programs and Homeless Outreach Court are convened at the Community Court. In addition, onsite services and resources are available to the general public and program participants including mental health/medical assessments and referrals, vocational skills training and employment assistance, legal aid for civil matters, appointment services for the Department of Motor Vehicles and assistance with accessing government benefits and veterans’ resources. The Community Court hosts visitors from other jurisdictions seeking to start or enhance their own programs. For more information, visit the Center for Justice Innovation at www.innovatingjustice.org.
2022-2024 Mentor Court Veteran’s Treatment Court Program. For more information, visit NADCP.org
About Collaborative Courts
Collaborative or “problem solving” Courts address the underlying issues that cause people to become justice involved.
Through a multi-agency partnership, participants are provided with services including counseling, treatment, housing, vocational skills, education, assistance in accessing government benefits, and linkage to other support services. Below is a brief description of each of the Collaborative Court programs offered by the Orange County Superior Court. Program length may vary from 1 year to agreed upon maximum probation term.
For further information you may also access the California Judicial Council, Administrative Office of the Courts online Collaborative Court information.
Alternative Programs for Adult and Juvenile Offenders
Adult Drug Court
Adult Drug Court is a collaboration of agencies -- including the Court, the Probation Department, the Health Care Agency, the Public Defender’s office, the District Attorney’s office, the Sheriff’s Department and other local law enforcement -- which provides an alternative to incarceration for defendants who meet the program's eligibility criteria. The Drug Court is a voluntary program that works with seriously addicted criminal offenders who are at high risk of recidivation, and in high need of treatment and supportive services to achieve sobriety.
The five-phase Drug Court program is a minimum of 18 months in length and consists of intensive supervision by a Drug Court probation officer, individual and group counseling provided by the Health Care Agency’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, frequent court appearances, random drug and alcohol testing, regular team meetings to discuss the participant’s progress, and residential treatment or residence in a “sober living” facility, as necessary.
As participants progress through the phases, they are held accountable to program requirements, if they are non-compliant, they can receive sanctions ranging from an essay, community service, jail sanction, and program termination. Participants are also rewarded with incentives for positive behavior, such as phase advancements, decreased program requirements, drawings for gift cards, and program graduation.
In order to graduate participants are required to be gainfully employed or attending a training/academic program; to attend regular self-help meetings, and to have maintained consistent attendance at all court hearings, probation and counseling appointments.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Courts have been established to target repeat drunk driving offenders with the goal of helping them to achieve sobriety while reducing the grave dangers that driving under the influence presents to the community. The program is a minimum of 18 months in length with five phases for felony offenders and a minimum of 12 months with three phases for second and third-time misdemeanor DUI offenders. These voluntary programs provide participants with professional assistance to address substance abuse issues.
In addition to sobriety, the DUI Court program emphasizes rebuilding family ties, maintaining employment and a stable living environment, and pursuing educational goals.
The program is a partnership that includes the Superior Court, the Probation Department, the Health Care Agency, the Public Defender’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the Sheriff’s Department, MADD, and local law enforcement agencies.
Homeless Outreach Court
The Homeless Outreach Court is a voluntary program designed to address outstanding infractions, quality of life misdemeanors, and outstanding warrants of homeless individuals, while providing them with links to necessary supportive services. The programs consist of a wide range of supportive services including physical and mental health care, and alcohol and drug-dependency. Additional services provided include self-help recovery meetings, community service activities, classes in life skills, computer skills, literacy, and employment resources.
Homeless Outreach Court is an unfunded collaboration of the Court, the Public Defender, the District Attorney, the Orange County Department of Housing and Community Services, the Health Care Agency, the Veterans Administration, the Orange County Legal Aid Society, local law enforcement agencies, and a variety of homeless services providers.
Mental Health Diversion
Mental Health Diversion is a pre-plea diversion program pursuant to Penal Code 1001.36, which serves defendant’s suffering from mental health disorders. The defendant must plead not guilty to the charge(s) and waive their right to a speedy trial. The defendant/defense is responsible for filing a motion requesting Mental Health Pre-Trial Diversion that includes a diagnosis or treatment for a diagnosed mental health disorder within the last five years and a proposed treatment plan. Prior to ordering the defendant into diversion the Court must find the defendant eligible, suitable and have a proposed treatment plan that meets the defendants specialized mental health needs. During the diversion process, the Court oversees the defendant’s treatment and services, non-compliance determination including termination, request for treatment modifications, and progress review hearings. If the Court grants diversion, the Court will order periodic progress reviews for the defendant, and the mental health treatment provider will provide regular reports to the court on the defendant’s progress in treatment. If the defendant performs satisfactorily in diversion, at the end of the period of diversion, the court shall dismiss the defendant’s charges. The defendant may undergo mental health treatment for a period not to exceed one year for misdemeanors and two years for felonies.
For additional information please refer to the attached Procedural Guidelines for Mental Health (MH) Diversion or contact the MH Diversion coordinator at MentalHealthDivision@occourts.org.
WIT “Whatever It Takes” Court is a voluntary program, at least 18 months in length, for criminal offenders who have been diagnosed as chronically, persistently mentally ill and are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The participants must have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, or major depressive disorder. The program involves frequent court appearances, regular drug and alcohol testing, meetings with the WIT Court support team, and direct access to specialized services. Through services funded by the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) the participants are provided with mental health counseling, psychiatric services, drug and alcohol abuse counseling, residential treatment, safe housing, family counseling and peer mentoring.
Clients are also assisted in accessing medical services, employment counseling, job training and placement, government benefits, and housing.
Opportunity Court is a voluntary program, at least 18 months in length, for criminal offenders who must have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, or major depressive disorder and are supported by readily available psychiatric services. Participants are serviced through the Health Care Agency’s Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) if they meet the eligibility criteria of that program regarding recent hospitalizations and/or incarcerations; and if ineligible for PACT, participants are served through other sources of treatment.
This five-phase program involves frequent court appearances, individualized treatment plans, weekly meetings by a Probation Officer and Health Care Coordinator, regular drug and alcohol testing, residential substance abuse treatment, and attendance at individual and group counseling sessions – all of which are based on the Drug Court model. Participants are also assisted in accessing medical services, employment counseling, job training and placement, government benefits, and housing.
The Recovery Court is a voluntary program, at least 18 months in length, for criminal offenders suffering from chronic and persistent mental illness involving frequent court appearances, regular drug and alcohol testing, meetings with the Recovery Court support team, and direct access to specialized services.
The program provides participants with psychiatric services through the Health Care Agency’s Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) if they meet the eligibility criteria of that program regarding recent hospitalizations and/or incarcerations. If ineligible for PACT, participants are served through other sources of treatment. In this five-phase program, individualized treatment plans incorporate supervision by a Probation Officer with a variety of services through programs including mental health and psychiatric care, drug and alcohol abuse counseling, family counseling, and residential treatment. Participants are provided with referrals to medical care, employment counseling, job skills training, and assistance in accessing government disability benefits and housing.
ASSISTED INTERVENTION COURT
Assisted Intervention (“AI”) Court is a program for criminal offenders who have mental health problems which are diagnosed as severe and persistent, but who have a lower criminogenic risk factor. The program is voluntary and lasts a minimum of 18 months. Potential participants are identified for evaluation by partnering agency personnel including a Probation Coordinator. If accepted into the program, they are afforded immediate mental health treatment based on an individualized treatment plan through Health Care Agency and a subcontracted mental services provider.
Military Diversion is a pre-plea misdemeanor diversion program, pursuant to Penal Code 1001.80, which serves current and former members of the U.S. military, who may be suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, sexual trauma, substance abuse or mental health programs, because of their service. The defendant/defense is responsible for obtaining an assessment from the Veteran’s Administration, Orange County Health Care Agency or other appropriate agency. Once eligibility has been obtained, a motion/petition requesting diversion may be filed. The judicial officer at the originating justice center will review the motion/petition and may conduct a hearing to determine eligibility and whether the Court should exercise its discretion and divert the defendant. If the request for diversion is granted, the case is referred to Department CCB1. Individualized treatment plans include five phases of regular court appearances, counseling and treatment, drug testing, and adherence to the Military Diversion Treatment Requirements for a minimum of 18 months. Pursuant to statute, the diversion program shall not be longer than two years in length. Upon successful completion of the program, the criminal charges will be dismissed.
Veterans Treatment Court
The Veteran’s Treatment Court (“VTC”) offers a therapeutic alternative and support services to US military service personnel who become involved with the criminal justice system, and who are in need of effective mental health treatment to address issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder “PTSD”, Traumatic Brain Injury “TBI” and other serious mental health problems. Program participants who are eligible to receive services from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are guided through a five-phase structured program for a minimum of 18 months. Veterans who are not eligible for VA services receive treatment from the county Health Care Agency. Individualized treatment plans include mental health counseling, self-help meetings, weekly meetings with a care coordinator, high control supervision by a Probation Officer, the development of a life plan, frequent and random drug and alcohol testing, and regular court appearances.
Veterans Treatment Court, which opened in November 2008 at the Community Court building, is a collaborative partnership with the Veterans Administration, which has funded a full-time case manager, and with other State and local veteran service providers.
Young Adult Court
Young Adult Court is a program in the Orange County Superior Court focusing on young adults who are charged with an eligible felony in Orange County. The goal of this program is to reduce recidivism and promote positive life outcomes. The Young Adult Court is held on alternating Fridays with Judge Maria Hernandez presiding in Department C1 of the Central Justice Center. The Young Adult Court takes referrals of defendants from Orange County that are between the ages of 18 to 25 years old that meet program criteria. Referrals are submitted via email to YAC@occourts.onmicrosoft.com. The Young Adult Court Coordinator will contact the referring attorney with the next available Young Adult Court meeting date and time.
Juvenile Collaborative Courts:
CROSSOVER YOUTH COURT
The Crossover Youth Court (“CYC”) is a collaborative court that provides services to youth who are dually involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The Orange County Social Services Agency (SSA) provides child welfare services to address parental maltreatment. The Orange County Probation Department (Probation) provides rehabilitative services to address a youth’s delinquent behavior. The CYC embodies a strength-based perspective that is essential to improving the lives of youth and their families. The overarching goals of the CYC are to achieve strong and consistent family engagement; align the mission and goals of SSA and Probation; reduce the number of out-of-home placements; reduce the rate of recidivism; increase interagency information sharing; increase the family voice in decision-making; and increase the youth and parent satisfaction with the process. The CYC will provide supportive, responsive, and preventative services for our youth who fall within the child welfare and juvenile justice systems or are at risk for crossover into either system.
G.R.A.C.E. Court (Generating Resources to Abolish Child Exploitation) is a Collaborative Juvenile Program that is designed to address the needs of youth who have been identified as a victim or at risk of becoming a victim of human trafficking. To participate in this program, the youth must be referred by their attorney or social worker.
JUVENILE RECOVERY COURT
Juvenile Recovery Court (“JRC”) is a court-based intervention program for substance abusing youth in need of specialized treatment services. It is a collaborative endeavor between the Juvenile Court, District Attorney’s Office, Probation Department, Public Defender’s Office, Health Care Agency and Waymakers, a community resources provider.
The Juvenile Recovery Court program is a combination of substance abuse treatment, sanctions, and incentives designed to rehabilitate drug-involved youth, empower families to support them, and prevent reoffending. Upon successful completion of the program, the charges against the youth will be dismissed and the records sealed.
Teen Court is a program that addresses the critical needs of at-risk teenagers in the dependency system who are 12 to 17 years old. Teen Court is a partnership that includes representatives from Orange County’s Social Services Agency, Health Care Agency, Department of Education, and the Probation Department. Participants in Teen Court, many of whom are living in foster care group homes and facing mental health issues, substance abuse issues or academic failure, receive treatment and counseling. Participants are helped to learn the skills they need to deal with issues of trust and safety, build healthy and appropriate relationships, and gain the competencies that are necessary for successful, independent living.
The Truancy Court targets chronically truant youth, with the goal of eliminating their school truancies and absences, reducing their risk of criminal delinquency, and increasing their chances of future academic success. The monitoring and accountability program involves the youth and their parents in a collaboration with the Juvenile Court, the Department of Education, the District Attorney, the Public Defender, the Social Services Agency, and the Health Care Agency.
YOUTH DEVELOPMENT COURT
Youth and former youth who are transitioning to their communities after serving commitments for a serious or violent felony adjudication in our local juvenile facilities or Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) are eligible for Youth Development Court (“YDC”). While housed at the juvenile facilities or DJJ, these youth and former youth are receiving rehabilitation and treatment services necessary to address the issues that brought them into the juvenile justice system with a goal of successfully transitioning them back into the community with the skills, confidence and resources needed to prevent them from reoffending. This includes life and job skills training, education services, therapeutic services, and mentorships.
The program is a partnership requiring collaboration between the Superior Court, the District Attorney, appointed counsel, the Probation Department, the Health Care Agency, the Department of Education, and relevant community based non-profit organizations.