Psychology and more specifically addiction and abuse treatment has become an instrumental facet in defending individuals accused of a crime. While counseling is often mandated by the law or the Court, it is also a valuable tool even when not required by the Court.
By establishing that you have a desire to address any possible issues, or by establishing through a credible evaluation process that there is no issue to begin with, you provide your attorney with evidence that will help him focus the Court’s attention on the legal issues in your case, instead of worrying about your ability to remain a law abiding citizen.
No judge wants to be responsible for showing leniency to a defendant that goes on to commit more serious crimes in the future. The media, with little or no appreciation for the complexity of the criminal justice system or the challenges each case presents, seem to blame judges, prosecutors or police officers when a person commits a repeat offense, or when a person is charged with the same offense over and over again.
Drug and Alcohol addiction is the single most significant contributing factor in most criminal cases. It is generally believed by most judges, prosecutors and police officers that a person that uses or abuses drugs or alcohol is more likely to commit a crime. For that reason, a judge may believe that you are unlikely to have “learned your lesson” until you address these issues and in my experience, is more concerned about the danger you pose to the community than the issues in your case.
In other words defendants with drug or alcohol issues scare judges, because of the danger the pose to themselves and others in the community. By showing the Court that you’ve taken steps to address any issues, you remove that fear from the equation, and allow your attorney to focus on the facts and legal issues of your case.
For that reason, I encourage many of my clients to obtain an evaluation for addiction or abuse issues early on in their case. While it may not be necessary in some cases, it is difficult to make that determination in the early stages of the case, and in general it is better practice to obtain an evaluation from a qualified treatment provider who provides a confidential report to your attorney at the early stages of your case.
Although we do not make recommendations or endorsements, I have worked with a few particular treatment providers that are credible and professional in their approach, and provide a list to my clients when an evaluation may be worth having.
Here is a list of some of the providers in Erie County that we direct our clients to.