As an addiction counsellor, I’ve had a great number of clients who have reached out for help because they were experiencing legal issues and facing court charges.
The majority of these legal issues resulted from actions that were committed while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In many cases these actions are not representative of the person’s true values nor consistent with their ordinary manner of conduct. These charges include but are not limited to:
- Driving while impaired
- Custody or family issues (restraining orders, Children’s Aid Services)
- Boating while impaired (all motor vehicles)
- Trafficking illegal substances
- Work related issues (employment law)
Many of these clients have been told by their legal representation to demonstrate, to the court, a motivated desire to take responsibility for their actions. They are also encouraged to take responsibility for their addiction and to seek professional addiction rehabilitation services. In doing so, they demonstrate a determination to make positive behavioural changes.
Taking Responsibility & Accepting Help
The primary benefit of this approach is showing the judge they have already taken proactive measures to deal with the addiction issues. They are therefore communicating their decision to do what it takes to become a responsible citizen. Demonstrating this proactive stance indicates they are less likely to reoffend in the future.
This SIGNIFICANTLY increases any likelihood of receiving a suspended or conditional sentence which is lesser than the original charges. While the original motivation to seek addiction treatment may be to obtain a conditional or suspended sentence (avoiding the stiffest possible sentence under the law), it invariably leads to a very introspective process—a process through which people develop the tools and coping mechanisms necessary to move forward in a positive direction.
After going through this sincere self-analysis they have a new and greater perspective of how substances previously affected their thoughts, feelings, and ultimately their decision making and behaviours. These skills serve people well moving forward and motivate them to avoid trouble with the law again.
By understanding how our thoughts and feelings influence our behaviours we are able to identify the root causes that lead to the problematic behaviour, re: substance abuse. A reputable inpatient program, with trained addiction professionals, will help an individual not only be able to identify these thoughts feelings and behaviours but also be able to recognize the triggers (people, places, things and stressors) that influence them.
Remember, addiction is just the symptom! Substances are a person’s temporary solution to an already existing problem. By identifying the “why” a person can start developing the tools that promote resilience and the ability to manage their addiction in a more healthy and effective way.
Having Proof That You’re Getting Help
A nationally accredited treatment center, with credentialed and certified medical, psychological and addiction professionals, will be able to provide a detailed confirmation letter of the treatment and therapies planned and finally, completed.
This can be provided directly to legal counsel and presented before the court. One-on-one counselling that offers Cognitive Behaviour Therapy as well as other Psychotherapies and Solution Focused Brief Therapies are some of the most predominant treatments used in treating addiction.
A detailed psychological assessment, providing evidence based statistics of progress, can be extremely influential in court proceedings. This not only provides evidence that the individual is serious in their resolve to make the positive changes, but it also shows documented proof that the individual has already made some of the necessary changes. This is what any competent judge is pleased to see.
The above is not intended to serve as legal advice. Please seek out the services of a solicitor or barrister who specializes in criminal proceedings.