Specialty Courts

The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office participates in a variety of courts in both District Court (felonies) and Metropolitan Court (misdemeanors) with the goal of rehabilitating the defendant in order to assist with making the community safer and more productive. By treating underlying behavioral health and substance use disorders, Specialty Courts offer improved outcomes over traditional prosecution for enrolled individuals, their families, and the community-at-large.


District Courts

The Bernalillo County Drug Court is the largest and most well-established Specialty Court in Bernalillo County. Drug Court is an option for defendants whose crime is related to substance use disorders and is structured in a non-adversarial, team based approach, which includes the Court, the District Attorney’s Office, the Law Office of the Public Defender, Adult Probation and Parole, community based treatment providers and social workers. Depending on the charge, Drug Court participants may enter into the program pre-conviction or post conviction. The primary mission of the Adult Drug Court program is to reduce substance use through a variety of different treatment options and reduce substance use disorder related criminal activity by providing necessary support and supervision. Drug Court is a therapeutically structured program that guides successful participants to sobriety, while still understanding that relapse is part of the recovery process. Recidivism and overall costs associated for participants in Drug Court is low, especially compared to regular probation or incarceration. For more information click here.

The Bernalillo County District Mental Health Court is a treatment court program that is designed specifically for individuals whose involvement with the legal system is directly related to an untreated or unstable mental health disorder, indicating a clear need for intervention, treatment and support. The program has an overall focus on assisting with improving participants’ quality of life, appropriate treatment services and discontinue involvement with the criminal justice system. The program is 100% voluntary, and is an alternative to the standard judicial process. The program strives to improve one’s quality of life through treatment, linkage to community resources, specialized supervision and extensive supportive measures. The overall goal is long term stability, decreased recidivism, increased community safety, personal growth and overall well-being.

Utilizing a Drug Court model, the Bernalillo County DWI Court is specifically designed to address the defendant’s alcohol use disorder in a non-adversarial treatment based approach with the participation of Bernalillo County Court, PreTrial Services, District Attorney’s Office, and Law Office of Public Defender. Successful participants go through a strict, yet compassionate, rehabilitative program that has seen success in the reduction of subsequent crime by its participants.

The Veterans Diversion Program (VDP) is a service offered through the New Mexico Adult Probation Department and the VA Hospital in Albuquerque, in cooperation with the 2nd Judicial District Court, District Attorney’s Office and Law Offices of the New Mexico Public Defender. The program is designed to help Honorably Discharged Veterans of the United States Armed Forces, who have encountered the Criminal Justice System, to improve on their coping skills whose deficits have led them to engage in criminal conduct. That goal is pursued in increments, with specific goals at each phase, requiring the Veteran to demonstrate that he/she has grasped the essential concept associated with each particular phase before progressing to the next.  In addition to weekly peer group discussion sessions, admitted participants are required to participate in various community service programs and therapeutic counseling determined by treatment providers at the VA Hospital. The minimum time to complete the program is 18 months, but might extend beyond that time, depending on the needs of the particular Veteran and the jurisdiction of the Court connected with the negotiated plea.

The Young Adult Court is a voluntary specialty court program designed for individuals ages 18-25 that have been arrested in Bernalillo County, are facing criminal charges, and are in particular need of treatment, social services, the development of crucial life skills, and a support system to help them rehabilitate. The program is designed to provide young adults facing criminal charges with the tools necessary to allow them to place focus on their recovery from any substance use disorder, mental health disorder, or other behavioral issues that they may be struggling with. Additionally, the program is designed to assist its participants in engaging with educational opportunities, community service, and in finding stable employment. The Young Adult Court seeks to accomplish these goals through the coordination of a collaborative, multi-agency team that utilizes judicial and mental health professionals to connect participants with treatment, education, and employment opportunities that will aid the participants in their rehabilitation.


Metropolitan Courts

The Metropolitan Behavioral Health Court is a program for individuals with a mental health diagnosis who have either DV or CR cases pending. This is a pre-adjudication program, so the defendant does not need to enter into a plea for this program. Enrollment in the Behavioral Health Court is voluntary. The Behavioral Health Court team consists of a presiding judge, a program manager, a clinical service coordinator, treatment providers, law enforcement representatives, a public defender, an assistant district attorney and probation officers who oversee the program and have special expertise working with individuals with mental illness. The program includes mental health treatment, medication management, supervision, drug and alcohol testing, and any other treatment the individual may require. The case management services are intended to assist with stabilization, resources, housing, disability, medication, guardianship, and other needs that often accompany individuals with mental health and competency difficulties. These services are offered to defendants who may have not had access to services previously and often recidivate in our criminal justice system. Learn more here.

DWI Behavioral Health Court is a multidisciplinary team consisting of an assistant district attorney, public defender, probation officer, and counselor. This team coordinates services with community service providers. To be eligible, adults must have been charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses filed in the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, volunteer to join the court, and have a diagnosis of a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness, or be developmentally disabled. Participants meet with the judge for status hearings on a regular basis, undergo frequent and random drug and alcohol testing, meet with an assigned probation officer, and engage satisfactorily in treatment. Other conditions are imposed to assist the participants with achieving sustained sobriety and a reduction in symptoms of mental illness. A primary goal of the DWI Behavioral Health Court is to enhance public safety through eliminating future instances of impaired driving. Learn more here.

Early Intervention Program is a pre-adjudication program for first time DV offenders. EIP is 6 months long and defendants report to probation to must complete extensive treatment that is specific to first time DV offenders. The recidivism rates for successful completion of EIP is substantially lower than the average for similarly situated defendants. Additionally, there is a “parenting track” for misdemeanor child abuse cases. If they successfully complete the 6 month program, the case is dismissed. Learn more here.

DVSTEP is a specialty court in the Bernalillo Metropolitan Court house modeled after drug courts and designed to specifically address domestic violence. This program is a post adjudication program for participants with a history of domestic violence charges. To qualify for the program the participant enter into a plea – it can be to any charge. The program provides behavioral counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, parenting classes and an environment for participants to work through past traumas and triggers influencing their current lives. GPS as well as SCRAM alcohol monitoring is available for higher risk participants to ensure community safety. The program also offers counseling and educational services for the victims and children of the domestic violence charge. The program is designed to decrease the cycle of domestic violence and reduce rates of re-offending for participants. Learn more here.

CVC has a multidisciplinary team comprised of two probation officers, an assistant district attorney, a public defender, and the Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator from the New Mexico Veterans Administration Health Care System. CVC consists of two tracks: a 6 month pre-adjudication track for low level offenders and a year long post adjudication track for repeat offenders. CVC’s mission is to enhance public safety by providing a judicially supervised program that addresses substance use and behavioral health disorders with the goal of returning veterans and service members to the community as healthy law abiding individuals. The District Attorney’s Office has a representative on the CVC team who represents the interests of the State, the veteran participants, and the wider Albuquerque community. Our office, through the CVC program, strives to rehabilitate veterans who make contact with the criminal justice system, primarily at the misdemeanor level. As an alternative means to incarceration or standard probation, CVC provides participants with rehabilitative services primarily through the Veterans Administration Hospital and First Nations Community Health Source. Learn more here.

Urban Native American Healing to Wellness Court focuses on the concept of restorative justice by implementing individualized treatment programs that are appropriate to each participant’s tribal community. As a prosecutor, our role is to help find solutions that serve the means of this restorative justice, while still balancing the interests and safety of the general public. As such, we work closely with the counselors, probation officers, medical providers, and defense attorneys to find appropriate remedies that balance the needs of the participant with the safety of the community. While upholding the law is our goal, we also recognize that the path of Healing to Wellness is a process, and we work to find unique remedies and solutions for each participant along the way. Whether we are exploring appropriate sanctions or helping find unique ways for participants to complete community service, our hope is that our participation helps each individual complete the path to wellness and return as a vital member of their tribal community. Learn more here.

DWI Recovery Court is a treatment based program focusing on individuals with two or three DWI convictions. The program is overseen by Judge Rodriguez and the participants are supervised by recovery court based probation officers. DWI Recovery Court also has a specific track for individuals with both mental health and substance use disorder. These participants are afforded specialty services by counselors who have received dual diagnosis training. DWI Recovery Court also provides a Spanish speaking track. The participants are provided with substance use disorder counseling as well as traditional counseling, focusing on the root of the issue. The program’s goal is to enhance community safety, promote evidence-based practices for offender accountability, and support offender rehabilitation. Learn more here.

Outreach Court is a diversionary program for homeless defendants in Metropolitan Court. Defendants are referred to Outreach Court by community advocates. The Outreach team reviews the defendant’s eligibility and sets the case for a meaningful review. Depending on their needs, Outreach court participants work with their advocates and are provided treatment, classes, and training. Providers also assist participants in finding employment and permanent housing. During the meaningful review, the Outreach team reviews the participant’s progress and makes a determination on whether their case will be dismissed. Learn more here.