One of the biggest times that I see this come up as it relates to criminal defense is when somebody gets in a bad accident, for example, hurts another person and is looking for a felony DUI. A great bodily injury allegation and a host of other criminal charges and they're facing not only potential jail time, but even potential prison time.
So, at that point sometimes we can come up with an alternate to that custody time and that involves treatment for the person.
Alternative DUI Sentencing Involving Treatment
The reasoning and justification for that with the prosecutors is that if the person is thrown in jail or even prison, they will be out of society for a period of time. They will be punished and it will be a deterrent to them committing future crimes.
By the same token, if the person is taken out of society for a period of time in order to get treatment, that will have the same impact on the person because they won't be able to be with their friends and family.
They also won't be able to work and do all of the normal stuff that they do but they will also be getting treated for the root problem, which a lot of times is alcohol or drug addiction or both.
Some people even have mental issues thrown in there and we'll try to get them in a dual-diagnosis program where they're being treated for both substance abuse problems, whether it be alcohol or anything else, and any mental issues they might have.
Keeping a California DUI Offender Out of Jail
The good thing about this alternative sentence if you can get it is it will keep the people out of jail or prison. It also satisfies the prosecutors a lot of time because they realize sometimes if somebody's in custody for 180 days up to a year on a live-in alcohol program or dual-diagnosis program, they'll end up being in custody longer than they would be if they got jail or prison time.
So, sometimes, under the right circumstances, that's tempting to the prosecutors.
As far as treatment goes for alcohol-related offenses, there's all sorts of different programs that are available. We know somebody who finds treatment programs for people under the right circumstances that are court-approved.
A lot times we can even get the court to pay for the program if the person cannot afford them. So, what we'll do is try to get them into an out-patient treatment program so they can continue to work to provide for their family, but at the same time get treatment for any alcohol-related offense they may have.
It's a lot more difficult to get the out-patient programs when you have a scenario where the person is looking at a lengthy jail or prison sentence because the prosecutors don't view them as that much of a punishment and it's not as effective as an in-patient program.
Negotiation with Prosecutor
But if somebody is looking at some serious custody time and they want to try to avoid that custody time, an in-patient program is usually the way to go. A lot of times if it's argued right and if you can really show that the person has a true addiction to alcohol or any other drug related to a DUI or any other offense, then you have a pretty good argument.
Of course, the goal is convince the prosecutor that instead of just throwing them in jail where they'll probably do a small fraction of the time you give them.
Why not get them some real treatment so we can get to the root of their problem. An alcohol program is something that can really change somebody's life for the better and prosecutors really should be looking at that as well, in addition to trying to punish the person for a DUI or other alcohol-related offense.