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Second Judicial District Court


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Young Adult Court


Young Adult Court (YAC) is a state-certified specialty treatment court program specifically for transitional aged young people (ages 18-25) that have been charged and/or convicted of felony level charges within Bernalillo County. Started in September 2017, the Program’s success relies on the strong stakeholder partnership between the Second Judicial District Court, the Law Offices of the Public Defender, the District Attorney’s Office, Bernalillo County, community providers, and local law enforcement agencies.

YAC completed a comprehensive program review process with the Department of Therapeutic Justice at the State Administrative Office of the Courts in October of 2022 and was awarded Gold-Level Certification as high-performing, best-practice specialty court program.

The program now includes both pre and post plea tracks. The program serves individuals with all levels of risk and need, as assessed. The program duration typically ranges from 18-24 (credit earned) months. Time in the program is dependent on the severity of risk and need, level of participation and overall progression through the program.

YAC team members take into special consideration that participants typically have extensive trauma histories, limited support systems and a history of substance abuse, mental health and co-occurring disorders. In addition, participants often lack basic resources such as housing, education and/or employment. Therefore, in an effort to meet the individualized needs of each participant, YAC provides intensive clinical case management, individual, group, and family treatment services, housing, academic and vocational support through linkages in the community. The services provided are unique to the person and are identified through individualized assessments and treatment planning. Each participant is given ample opportunity to receive the needed services to develop the life skills needed to live a life that is substance and criminal justice free.


Work in collaboration with participants to address and improve life circumstances through specialized supervision, treatment engagement, linkage to community resources and extensive supportive measures.


The overall goal of the YAC program is to reduce recidivism and increase public safety by assisting participants to recognize their self-worth, increase self-esteem, confidence and improve their overall quality of life by making healthy and safe choices.

Program Quick Facts

  • Program inception date:   September 2017
  • State certification:  Gold Level Certification awarded in October 2022
  • Current capacity:  60 participants
  • Total participants since inception (9/1/2017-8/4/2023): 125
  • Total graduates since inception (9/1/2017-8/4/2023):  42
  • Recidivism rate (9/1/2017-1/1/2023):  14.28%
  • Success rate (9/1/2017-1/1/2023):  85.72%
  • Judicial Officers:  The Honorable Cindy Leos and The Honorable Joseph Montaño


Program Referrals

Program referrals are accepted from attorneys, judges, treatment providers, community agencies, family members and from young adults involved in the justice system that are interested in participating in jail diversion programs, as an alternative to traditional court processes.

Pre-Post Plea

The YAC program accepts both pre-adjudication and post-adjudication referrals.

Pre-Adjudication: Participants enter the program upon a plea agreement from the state and defense without an adjudication of guilt or innocence. An Order of Stay must be entered into knowingly and voluntarily with the participant’s understanding that they will be waiving applicable time limits and speedy trial rights while participating in the program. Pre-adjudication participants retain the right to counsel and their right to remain silent on the underlying crimes charged. Constitutional considerations are accounted for throughout their continued participation.

Post-Adjudication: Participants enter the program upon the filing of a formal plea agreement or upon a trial conviction. In some instances, the Court may order that sentencing be held in abeyance with a referral to the Young Adult Court program. Participants are advised appropriately of the possible sentence and penalties they may face, should termination or a voluntary withdrawal occur.

Eligibility Criteria

  • YAC works with individuals between the ages of 18-25 years old
  • Participants must have current felony charges-pending in Bernalillo County
  • Reside within Bernalillo County or surrounding area
  • Must have identifiable substance abuse, mental health and/or social service needs, and be willing to participate in treatment for the duration of the program. Treatment services may include psychiatric evaluation, medication management, substance abuse individual and/or group counseling, and other behavioral treatment services as recommended. Participants are not excluded from participation in YAC due to lack of residence and/ or stable residence.


Disqualification Criteria

(All referrals are reviewed and considered on a case by case basis)

  • Individuals who are pending charges or who have been convicted of capital offenses and/or sex offenses
  • Individuals that have been found incompetent, or competency is pending and/or do not have the cognitive capacity to participate in the program
  • Individuals who do not engage in completing clinical assessments and who stop showing up for program requirements
  • Individuals unwilling to follow treatment recommendations (e.g. medication management, counseling, case management services)


Service Delivery

Community treatment and case management is provided by many entities in the community. Referrals for clients are based on need and agency availability. Participants complete a therapeutic assessment and develop an individualized treatment plan that focuses on identifying strengths and addressing needs. Services are strength-based and client centered for youth who are challenged by substance abuse and co-occurring disorders and/or are deemed high-risk to reoffend in the community. Clients are ideally engaged in YAC for a period of 18 to 24 (credit-earned) months by transitioning through four phases, with an ongoing relationship of care in the areas of job readiness, housing, educational support and parenting.

YAC Specialty Tracks

  1. Co-Occurring Track
  2. Gun Violence Track
  3. Fentanyl Track


Team Staffing

YAC Team Members meet weekly to review and discuss each participant’s progression through the program. The team discusses participants’ strengths, progress, barriers and challenges. The team takes a non-adversarial approach and focuses on working together to help the participant achieve advancement through the phases of the program with the ultimate goal of successful completion of the program and overall enhancement of life.

Court Case Review

YAC conducts weekly case review at which time participants appear in court and participate in a discussion with the Judge.

For more information or questions about this program contact

JSDP Main Line: (505) 841-5479