Drug Court in Franklin County, OH

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Many of our clients with drug crimes contact us to find out more about options to enter drug court programs in Franklin County, OH, including either the TIES program (also called “drug court”) in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas or the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Program (ADAP) in the Franklin County Municipal Court. These programs can be helpful for a person who truly needs and wants drug treatment.

If you have questions about your case, you should contact the experienced attorneys at Joslyn Law Firm to discuss your case. Our criminal defense lawyers represent clients for drug crimes throughout Columbus, Franklin County, and the surrounding counties in Ohio.


Rule 76 for the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas governs the specialized docket for the TIES (Treatment is Essential to Success) program.

76.05 Eligibility Criteria for TIES Program Admission

To be eligible for the TIES program under Ohio R.C. 2901.01, the original charge or charges must be no more than a third degree felony. Also, a conviction must be for a third, fourth, or fifth degree felony or a first degree misdemeanor. Eligibility for the TIES program in domestic violence cases in Franklin County is determined on a case-by-case basis. A sexually-oriented or sexually-motivated offense is not eligible.

To be considered for the TIES program, the defendant must be evaluated for legal and social (clinical) factors including:

  • Legal factors in screening TIES program participants include:
    • Current charge
    • Criminal history, including adjustment to prior supervision
    • Circumstances of offense(s), including outstanding warrants, detainers, previous diversions, or other charges
  • Clinical factors in screening TIES program participants include:
    • Assessment of substance abuse history
    • Social/family history
    • Other health conditions
    • Motivation and willingness to participate (including signing of release of information)

To assist in determining whether an applicant should be eligible for the program, the TIES program in Franklin County, Ohio, has developed an outline of eligibility factors of admission.

76.06 Referring Criminal Defendants to the TIES Program

Identifying eligible cases for transfer

If a referring judge has a criminal defendant that he or she believes is involved with the criminal justice system as a result of drug and/or alcohol abuse, he or she may request that the defendant be evaluated for eligibility for the TIES program. The defendant should meet the basic eligibility requirements as set forth in Loc. R. 76.05 to be considered.

Discussion with counsel about referral for evaluation

If a judge desires to refer the defendant to be evaluated for eligibility for the TIES program, discussion with counsel should take place. The defense counsel may also approach the judge with the suggestion of referral.

Referral for evaluation

In referring a defendant to be evaluated for eligibility for the TIES program, a signed entry entitled “ENTRY REFERRING DEFENDANT TO TIES PROGRAM FOR EVALUATION FOR PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY AND ADMISSION” must be completed and counsel notified.

Defendant consents to evaluation

If the defendant wishes to be evaluated for eligibility, the defense attorney and defendant must complete the entry entitled “CONSENT AND WAIVER BY DEFENDANT FOR REFERRAL TO TIES PROGRAM TO BE EVALUATED FOR PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY AND ADMISSION.” This signed entry, along with the entry from the judge must then be forwarded to the TIES coordinator.

Defendant is evaluated by TIES coordinator

Upon receipt of the entries noted above, the TIES coordinator or his or her qualified designee shall personally meet with the defendant, whether incarcerated or on bond, to administer screening tools and evaluate motivation for admission to the TIES program.

TIES program staffing for eligibility

The TIES program team, consisting of but not limited to the TIES program judge, the TIES program coordinator, the TIES program probation officer, a treatment assessor and liaisons from treatment providers who have signed memoranda of understanding and confidentiality statements to participate as treatment providers for TIES program participants, shall jointly determine a potential TIES participant’s eligibility for the program.

TIES coordinator notifies of program eligibility

Based on the recommendation of the TIES program team, the TIES coordinator shall complete the entry entitled “NOTICE OF RESULTS OF TIES PROGRAM EVALUATION FOR PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY AND ADMISSION” and forward copies of this entry to the referring judge and counsel notifying them of the defendant’s eligibility for admission to the TIES program.

Transfer of defendant’s case(s) to the TIES program

The TIES coordinator shall prepare the entry entitled “ENTRY TRANSFERRING DEFENDANT’S CASE TO THE TIES PROGRAM,” submitting it to both the referring judge and the TIES program judge, for approval by the administrative judge, and the defendant will be formally transferred to the TIES program judge’s docket.

Taking the plea

When the case involves new charges, the referring judge may take the plea or may refer the case to the TIES program judge to take the plea, which shall be fourth or fifth degree nonviolent, non-sexually oriented felony (or felonies) or first degree misdemeanor(s). Because of the time needed to interview the defendant, the referring judge may need to continue the case on his or her docket until notified that the defendant is eligible for the program. In the event that the referring judge wishes for the TIES program judge to take the plea, it is suggested that the continuance be to the TIES program judge’s regular disposition day so that he or she is available to take the plea.


For cases involving new charges, each participant shall be subject to a pre-sentence investigation to aid the TIES program and its treatment providers in preparing a successful case management plan for the TIES participant.

The TIES program judge shall sentence the defendant to the TIES program as a condition of community control, originally setting the probationary period at three years, with the incentive of early termination of community control if the defendant successfully completes the TIES program.

The TIES program participant shall begin attending TIES program hearings as a condition of bond, and generally, TIES program participants will be placed on a period of house arrest for sixty days as a condition of bond.

Early release from the term of house arrest may be used as an incentive for continued TIES program compliance.

In the case of an existing probation case or a judicial release case, the TIES program judge shall re-sentence the TIES participant referred by the referring judge at a revocation hearing to the TIES program as a condition of community control, originally setting the probationary period at three years, with the incentive of early termination of community control if the defendant successfully completes the TIES program.

Substitution of similar case for transferred case

Upon the transfer of a referring judge’s case to the TIES program judge, the referring judge will receive a case of the same level felony from the TIES program judge’s docket for each unsentenced case transferred.

There is no corresponding transfer to a referring judge for a probation or judicial release case transferred. The transfer may not occur immediately, as the TIES program judge’s case transferred must be a new case, and there may be a need to wait until a similar case is indicted and can be transferred.

If there is a waiting list for TIES program

At some point there may be a waiting list for the TIES program. If a referring judge has a defendant to refer to the program, and the program is at capacity, the referring judge is encouraged to refer the defendant regardless to allow his or her name to be placed on a waiting list and to allow for effective program evaluation by comparing the TIES program participants’ performance on community control with those who would be eligible for the TIES program but are completing conventional community control.

This group of waiting list defendants becomes a “control group” for study purposes to help justify additional funding from outside sources to increase the capacity of the program.

76.07 Comprehensive Evaluation of TIES program Participants for Case Management

TIES program participants are to be evaluated for a number of conditions that regular probationers are not.

All TIES program participants are to be evaluated for drug, alcohol, and any mental health conditions, along with an evaluation to see if there is any neurological condition that affects learning or behavior. The results of these and other evaluations are to be taken into account when determining what conditions of supervision will be required and how the participant will be supervised.

76.08 TIES Program Handbook

The TIES program coordinator shall maintain a TIES program handbook, making it available to all court personnel, counsel and criminal defendants who may be eligible for the TIES program.

The Handbook shall set forth rules for the program, the policies and procedures for urine drug screens, and other methods for detecting the presence of drugs and/or alcohol in a participant’s physical body or system, requirements for TIES program phases, graduated sanctions, and program incentives.

The TIES program handbook shall be reviewed at least annually for necessary changes based on the needs of the court, the program, its participants and its treatment and other providers.

The TIES program shall provide a copy of its TIES program handbook to the Specialized Dockets Section of the Ohio Supreme Court upon review and revision of the handbook.

76.09 TIES Program Phases

Participants in the TIES program shall complete three phases, each consisting of a minimum of twelve weeks. Movement to the next phase shall depend upon the frequency of sanctions in the existing phase, as set forth in the TIES program Handbook.

A TIES program participant must maintain a period of sobriety of at least six months after completing the third phase to be eligible to graduate and have his or her community control terminated.

76.10 Successful Completion of TIES Program

It shall be the goal of the TIES program that its participants shall complete the following minimum requirements:

  • Restitution paid
  • Letters of apology completed (when ordered)
  • GED obtained, when capable
  • All court costs and fines in all cases paid
  • Valid driver’s license, depending on ability to obtain one
  • Employment
  • Community service completed (if applicable)
  • Court supervision fee paid
  • Six months sobriety following completion of the third phase of the program
  • Completion of post-program forms and interview

76.11 Unsuccessful Termination from the TIES Program

The TIES program handbook shall set forth in its statement of graduated sanctions reasons for termination from the TIES program.

Examples of reasons for termination from the TIES program include but are not limited to:

  • Absconding
  • Failure to participate
  • Failure to appear in court
  • New charges and/or convictions that did not arise from an incident preceding TIES program participation

The decision to terminate a participant from the TIES program shall be made by the TIES program team. If a TIES program participant is terminated from the program, the TIES program probation officer shall schedule the participant for a revocation hearing before the TIES program judge, at which time, the TIES participant shall be subject to revocation as any probationer would be who is subject to revocation from community control.

The TIES program judge shall determine the sentence for the TIES participant at a regular revocation hearing on the judge’s docket. Program termination makes a former TIES program participant ineligible for future TIES program participation.

76.12 Funding of the TIES Program

The TIES program in its pilot program stage was established with grant funding from the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services. The TIES program shall be authorized to apply for additional grant funding to provide for the continued operation of the program. The TIES program judge shall consult with the administrative judge and the court’s executive director regarding funding sources to maintain this program of the court.

76.13 Reports to the Court En Banc

The TIES program judge shall provide to the court en banc (entire court) on a quarterly basis a TIES program census, including the names of current participants, listed by judge, including their case numbers, offenses, phases in the program, whether or not the prosecutor approved or disapproved of the referral, TIES program sanctions imposed, the current treatment provider and information on termination or final outcome.

76.14 Program Evaluation

The TIES program shall seek the assistance of the State of Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services and/or any other qualified program evaluator to design and implement both process and outcome evaluations of the TIES program, with factors to be evaluated that include but are not limited to:

  • Recidivism
  • Time in custody
  • Retention in program and/or treatment
  • Costs


 program success may be defined in terms of a significant decrease in recidivism within a specific period of entering and/or completing the TIES program and the percentage of participants who complete the TIES program. Cost savings may also be a factor in conjunction with these success indicators.

76.15 Memoranda of Understanding with Treatment and Other Providers to the TIES Program

The TIES program shall develop a memorandum of understanding to be signed by TIES program treatment providers. The memorandum of understanding must include at least the following and shall be renewed annually by TIES program treatment providers:

  • Treatment provider must guarantee no wait for TIES program participants to enter treatment; in the case of outpatient treatment, treatment must be provided within several days of referral, as set forth in the memorandum of understanding; in the case of inpatient treatment, a bed must be provided within approximately two weeks of referral, as set forth in the memorandum of understanding.
  • Treatment and other providers shall be selected, taking into account Medicaid regulations, geographic location, service to diverse racial and cultural clientele, and options for drug treatment of special populations such as dual diagnosis, pregnant women, mentally disabled, or HIV positive.
  • Treatment and other providers shall coordinate with and account for TIES program sanctions, including but not limited to CBCF (community based correctional facility), house arrest, and work release.
  • When a TIES participant can afford to pay for some of cost of treatment, participant may pay according to a scale developed by treatment provider and approved by the court.
  • When a TIES participant has private health insurance that provides and pays for the referred substance abuse and/or mental health benefits, the participant (and his or her insurance) shall be responsible for paying for treatment.

Additional Resources about Drug Court in Columbus, Ohio

Drug Court in Franklin County, Ohio — Visit the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas website for the Judiciary Division to learn more about specialized dockets, including drug court (TIES program). According to the website, drug court includes three twelve-week phases that each become less intensive. A final six-month period of more traditional probation follows after the third phase is completed. Many people complete the program in less than 18 months. After completion, the defendant is eligible for termination of probation.

TIES Program Coordinator
Marquita Clay
Common Pleas Courthouse
345 S. High Street, Courtroom 4A
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 525-7645

Franklin County’s specialized courts give offenders a chance at new lives  — Read a letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch newspaper written by the Honorable Scott Vanderkarr, judge of the Franklin County Municipal Court. The letter, published Saturday, August 23, 2014, explains the importance of specialized dockets and the need for these innovative programs in Franklin County, Ohio. The letter also explains programs in the Franklin County Municipal Court including the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Program (ADAP), the Military and Veteran Service (MAVS), the Mental Health Program, and Changing Actions to Change Habits (CATCH).

Find a Drug Crimes Attorney in Columbus, OH

If you are charged with a drug crime in Columbus, OH, then call our drug crimes defense attorneys to discuss your case. Many clients call us because they have violated a condition of drug court and are facing additional sanctions. We represent clients charged with possession of marijuana or controlled substances to more serious offenses such as the sale, distribution, manufacture, or trafficking of drugs. Call us today to discuss the best defense to your felony or misdemeanor drug charges.

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