What You Need to Know When Your Client's Criminal Sentence Includes Mandatory Rehabilitation

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Posted: 13th January 2021 by
Lawyer Monthly
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As your client’s acting legal representative, you must assume responsibility for protecting your client’s best interests and ensuring a favorable verdict.

Unfortunately, achieving best-case results is excruciatingly difficult with drugs or alcohol involved. As the US government’s "war on drugs" ensues with unrelenting force, convicted substance use disorder sufferers are subject to the courts’ scrutiny. From mandatory sentencing to large fines, a client with a documented history of drugs and alcohol use may experience lifelong consequences, which can derail the substance use disorder sufferer’s mental health, financial security, and physical well-being.

As of lately, more and more judges have begun to ditch prevailing drug sentencing in favor of drug rehabilitation centers, fully loaded with several recovery programs. As national campaigns and recovery advocates work tirelessly to destigmatise substance, individuals can heal core wounds, overcome their addictions, and stay out of trouble. Though rehabilitative services can transform your client’s financially and emotionally rocky life and help them avoid jail time, their initial punishment will increase if your client fails to abide by the mandated rehab stipulations.

What is court-ordered rehabilitation?

Law enforcement agencies and judges have reported changes of heart, gradually recognising that life-long jail sentences can’t cure life-long substance dependencies. Instead of healing the core wounds responsible for driving addicts to self-medicate, time in prison or jail results in incredibly high recidivism rates. Due to these high recidivism rates, judges have started to sentence convicted substance use disorder sufferers with court-ordered rehab instead of jail time.

When your client is arrested for committing a non-violent drug crime such as a DUI or simple possession, the judge can enact a sentence that allows your client to dodge jail time by admitting themselves into a rehabilitation center. The judge will set clear guidelines and rules that your client must adhere to, but so long as they stick to them, they can attend a rehab program instead of wasting away behind bars.

If your client doesn’t adhere to the judge’s established rules, then their court-ordered rehabilitation can be revoked, leaving those facing jail time to serve their sentence.


Is court-ordered rehabilitation worth it for your client?

Research has shown that court-ordered rehab is exceptionally beneficial if the patient is willing to make changes and is actively taking action to curb their cravings and seek professional intervention. If your client is willing and able to make the changes necessary to overcome their addiction, then court-ordered rehab will help them regain control of their life. Not to mention, mental health counseling can keep these substance use disorder sufferers out of jail.

When is court-ordered rehabilitation harmful to your client?

Court-ordered rehab is most effective when the individual wants to be there and is willing to change their life for the better. If your client doesn’t want to overcome their addiction and are merely looking to avoid jail time, rehab may not be the best option for them, as failure to follow the judge’s stipulations will result in a harsher punishment.

Court-ordered rehab comes with stipulations such as logging the required hours of therapy and refraining from drugs and alcohol. If your client breaks any of the court-ordered stipulations, they risk increasing the severity of their punishment, handing them a one-way ticket to prison where they’ll have to serve the full time.

For example, if your client is offered 100 hours in rehab instead of jail time and only makes it for 50 hours, the judge can cancel their rehab agreement, increase the original jail time they were facing, and require them to serve the entirety of their sentence.

Wrap up

If you believe that your client is a flight risk or not capable of abiding by the terms of the rehab agreement, it’s best to pursue other avenues to avoid jail time and reduce your client’s sentences. Ultimately, your client depends on you to advocate for their emotional well-being, necessitating a thoughtful approach.

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