By Robin Morisey • August 27, 2016•Issues, Other Issues
Many rookie defense attorneys are quick to learn the importance of client character in the eyes of the court. Despite hinging on relatively broad and sweeping laws and codes, justice is ultimately anchored to the fine details of an occurrence. The mindset, motive, and manners of someone engaged in criminal conduct are what largely decides their fate.
In fact, fresh-faced criminal defense lawyers soon discover their client’s actions and behaviors beyond the alleged crime itself are factors to play in delivering justice. This is especially the case when guilt is admitted and a case has reached the penalty phase; the details of a client’s life can be openly mentioned and used in deciding what to do next.
Therefore, proactive decisions on the part of a client to voluntarily enter drug rehab are often said to reduce the level of punishment imposed by the court. Is this true? It depends; again, justice boils down to the details; if the judge detects insincerity, such actions can do more harm than good.
Intent, intent, intent. What was the intent? The court wants to know; intent, more than anything else, decides what sort of charge and potential punishment will be doled out to a drug defendant.
With this in mind, it’s important for defense attorneys to inform clients about how the very act of trying to get clean through rehab is a step in the right direction. Oftentimes, addicts driven to get clean via rehab are mortified of making a mistake. For instance, Suboxone, a drug commonly used to help patients beat addiction in rehab, is itself frequently abused, according to source statistics provided by Desert Hope Treatment. Once such abuse occurs, patient/defendants want to give up - convinced they are doomed in the eyes of the court.
Yet, Suboxone abuse in the pursuit of becoming clean is almost always going to look better to a judge than if someone was refusing to seek any sort of treatment at all. Even the most draconian of judges experienced with drug related cases and drug offenders is going to understand the likelihood of bumps in the road to recovery. Clients unsure about their ability to flawlessly execute a drug rehab program must be told this, to ensure they give it a chance but to also help them stick to it for the duration.
Long term conditions
There are over 3,000 drug courts and counting in the United States. They are proving to be a game changer in the battle against drug addiction. Such second chances have been markedly scarce throughout the criminal justice system over the last several decades, as any experienced criminal defense lawyer or prosecutor can attest.
Recent re-calibrations in federal guidelines for prosecution and punishment of drug crimes are already showing great promise. However, as merciful as these changes may sound, they continue to be greatly affected by the details; accused violent drug offenders repeatedly endangering the lives of others - especially children - continue to (rightfully) have the book thrown at them if found guilty.
Furthermore, the increasing number of paths away from a life of drug addiction have another thing in common: they are all long. There is no quick fix to addiction, and judges know this. Clients must demonstrate and prove sobriety for months or even years before the justice system believe them fit to essentially live unsupervised.
Insiders will have a harder time
One last thing: it’s no secret the legal profession has a high rate of substance abuse problems among its many members. A word of warning: if a lawyer is standing in front of a judge as a defendant in a drug case, he or she is going to have a tougher time utilizing rehab for courtroom victory. The judge will likely suspect insincerity and raise their personal bar of reasonable doubt, due to the lawyer having a keen understanding of precisely what to do to evade severe punishment.
With that said, the truth shall set you free: achieving true success via rehab will do more than make things better in court - it’ll make life better all around.
In conclusion, voluntary rehab is helpful in court if the heart is in the right place. Clients ought to be made aware of this by their legal counsel, especially if fear of making a mistake during recovery is what holds them back from trying. The intent to escape a life of drugs goes a long way, in more ways than one.