November 29, 2013 • Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
As a criminal defense attorney, I see many of my clients struggle with substance abuse issues. Often it is evident to me that there is a strong causal connection between the allegations against my client and a substance abuse issue. But the question of whether or not going to drug treatment will help a defendant receive a lesser punishment in a criminal case, like all things in law, depends on many factors.
First off, drug charges in California often carry a drug treatment component. Those charged with first time drug possession are eligible for a Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ) program pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1000. Upon successful completion of the program, you are statutorily entitled to have your case dismissed. There is also a program known as Prop 36 for repeat drug offenders. This is a treatment scheme that is more restrictive and intensive than DEJ and carries some tougher collateral consequences, but it does provide a path to dismissal.
But what about charges that are not directly related to drugs or drug addiction? Often charges such as theft, assault, battery and domestic violence are brought on by substance abuse issues. While there are no statutes that allow for dismissal in these cases, if there is a strong causal link between the allegations and substance abuse, then your lawyer can and should assist in putting together a treatment plan that will help mitigate the punishment or, in some cases, create a path to a dismissal of the charges.
But here’s the other part: Unless you or your loved one is ready to go to treatment, it will be useless. Drug treatment only helps a criminal case if it is taken seriously and completed. Dropping out, getting kicked out, or walking away from a treatment program does no help. In fact, it may make matters worse. It shows the prosecutor and court that the client is in drug treatment. They will expect progress reports. If things don’t go well in treatment, the prosecutor and court will say “well, we’ve given this person a chance and they didn’t follow through.” This makes it more difficult to go back again and ask for drug treatment. This requires some serious reflection on your part as well as discussion with your loved ones and a qualified criminal defense attorney.
Contact the Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg at (323) 633-3423 anytime or via the secure contact form on this page for a free and confidential consultation regarding whether drug treatment would be helpful in your case or to discuss any other criminal law matter.