If you have a criminal defense case, you are likely looking for a more lenient sentence. After exploring options with your attorney, you may find that voluntarily going to treatment or rehabilitation will be beneficial. Whether drug or abuse related, treatment can prove to a judge and jury that you’re eager to change. Your changed behavior is the ultimate goal of the court.
Why does it help?
If you enter rehabilitation of your own accord, this behavior shows the judge you are trying to initiate change in your life. Your initiative says you’re eager to change your ways, and you’re working toward goals that will help yourself and those around you.
Entering a treatment program also tells the judge you don’t want the crime to happen again. This aligns with the court’s preventative goals.
Your criminal defense case attorney will likely encourage you to mention your family as a reason for treatment. These responsibilities, along with a steady job, will prove you are eager to prioritize their safety and best interest — a strong ethic for someone working through rehab. Judges see you have something to work toward, which proves you’re not just using treatment as a cop-out.
Statistics say treatment helps more
Most judges would rather put you through a treatment program than incarcerate you. That being said, if you take it upon yourself to enter a program, they feel it will be more productive than forcing you into treatment by a court order.
Research says that if a judge sentences someone to less than six months in prison, that person has a more dysfunctional life when the prison releases them. This means that those with a criminal defense case who are charged are more likely to revert to criminal behaviors when they are released. Judges acknowledge this information and would much rather you work toward your goals than give you a short stint in prison.
If your criminal defense case is drug-related, drug courts are an alternative to a judicial court that encourages treatment plans and has a high recovery rate. Initially created to cut back on the drug-related offenses in high traffic areas, drug courts provide supervision, testing, and treatment.
It may sound overbearing and too good to be true, but drug courts have a 75% success rate and are six times more likely to hold you accountable and keep you in your program. And if working toward keeping your family together is one of your goals, drug courts are 50% more likely to foster reunification in families.
It works if you work
Ultimately, going to treatment voluntarily can only help your criminal defense case as much as you want the help. If you’re not interested in quitting drug use, substance abuse, or violent behavior, a judge will likely notice. Your desires need to be genuine.
The first thing you should do is set attainable goals — you can make these goals with a counselor in your treatment program or seek advice from your attorney. Some people wish to be a better spouse, while others simply want a lighter sentence. Either way, you have to be willing to work toward the goal.
If you’re only interested in treatment as a way to make job searches easier, maintain your current job, or cut back on the expenses of your criminal defense case, think again. The judge and jury will more than likely be able to see through this. They would rather see tangible goal achievements.
The perfect example of treatment as damage control gone wrong is the case of celebrity Lindsay Lohan. She entered herself into rehab for a more lenient sentence, yes. But she also participated in other criminal behavior while in rehab, cutting her probation.
Can it help you?
“Goals” is the buzz word. If treatment aligns with your goals, there’s no reason not to pursue it. If it helps you avoid legal issues, you should pursue it. But most importantly, if you can afford it you should enter into a treatment program. You have nothing to lose.
After discussing your charges with your attorney, determine whether a court could potentially dismiss your charges. The Family Medical Leave Act may even entitle you to employment leave based on your treatment method. However, it varies case by case and state by state.
On a foundational level, your treatment cannot impact any evidence against you. Entering drug rehabilitation does not eliminate any drug possession you may have had. Entering Alcoholics Anonymous will not expunge a DUI from your record. The only thing voluntary noncustodial treatment can do is offer a potentially easier sentence, which will benefit you long term.