Substance abuse often leads individuals into legal troubles that require a lawyer. While every legal case varies dramatically, shifts in the criminal justice system in the United States have opened up several avenues for legal counsel to encourage and facilitate their clients’ recovery.
Here are 4 benefits in turning you or your loved ones’ legal woes over to an experienced lawyer.
1. Option for Pretrial Diversion and Alternative Sentencing
While state law varies, most states operate so-called “drug courts” for offenders facing charges stemming from or related to substance abuse, whether they’re legal or illegal. Even if no specific drug court exists in the jurisdiction of your offense, the nature of your criminal charges along with the circumstances leading up to them can be grounds for an attorney to request pretrial diversion or alternative sentencing. In either case, the offender agrees to complete a period of probation, including attending recovery meetings or treatment programs, if required by the court. Upon successful completion, offenders may have their criminal charges reduced or sealed, or even have a potential incarceration sentence suspended if they show a strong commitment to resolving their substance abuse issues.
2. Ability to Attend Rehab During Trial
In certain cases, a lawyer can convince the courts that his or her client should be receiving drug or alcohol rehabilitation treatment pending the outcome of a criminal case. Depending on the jurisdiction, the courts or counsel may mandate or request certain reduced cost or free options for treatment. This would allow the offender to receive substance abuse disorder treatment, adhere to the terms of their release and make a convincing case for favorable sentencing and plea agreements in light of constructive, documented and sustained recovery practices.
Moreover, the offender, despite their legal troubles, has the opportunity to end their addiction lifestyle, get help from medical and recovery professionals and improve their legal case at the same time.
3. A Clean Criminal Record
Depending on the case and jurisdiction, program members with longer periods of sobriety and a documented lifestyle emphasizing recovery may be able to expunge prior criminal records. For example, those whose criminal records may have obstructed their prior career development may seek help from an attorney once they’ve shown significant progress in recovery, such as a proven long-term commitment to attending meetings. While it may be legally complicated, clearing up a tainted past may be essential to those in recovery as it emphasizes a reconciliation with the havoc wreaked by their past addictions.
4. Help in Outstanding Legal Issues
A number of those in recovery face outstanding legal issues from their periods of substance abuse. Part of successful recovery depends on erasing these resentments or “amends owed” from the past and, in certain cases, an experienced lawyer can help address more formal means of rectifying legal, or potentially legal, substance use-related issues. Likewise, an attorney can also assist with common issues, such as reinstatement of driving privileges or child custody issues. For those in recovery who have seriously delved into step work in the program, consulting with a lawyer may even be a necessary move towards making informed and sincere efforts towards long-term sobriety.