Clients charged with drug or alcohol offenses frequently ask why we recommend they submit to an evaluation and take an education and/or treatment class if they are presumed to be innocent. Doesn’t that make it look like they are guilty? The answer is no. It makes it look like they are dealing with a potential problem responsibly.
There are a number of good reasons why education and/or treatment is necessary when one is charged with a drug and/or alcohol offense. The first thing to consider is whether the person may be abusing the drug or alcohol that is the basis of the charges. If yes, then education or treatment may help to minimize the chance that the person will get in future trouble, as well as help them to cope with what could be a very challenging problem. The arrest is an intervention for many drug or alcohol abusers that forces them to confront an issue they might prefer to avoid confronting. It is not unusual for concerned family members to support attempts at getting treatment. A serious drug or alcohol problem can cause more than just legal problems, the health and well being of the client and his or her family or friends may be in jeopardy. Treatment can help.
Another issue, relates to the preparation of the defense of the case. A good lawyer must prepare for trial as well as for sentencing. Many judges at present punish defendants who do not seek education or treatment before going to court. It shows a lack of remorse if they are found guilty. Effective treatment can help persuade prosecutors to reduce the charges or help persuade the judge to reduce the punishment. Failure to seek treatment before court places the defendant at risk of going to jail, or if it is a jail case to begin with, going to jail for a longer period of time. Additionally, probationary conditions may often be more onerous for a defendant who does not seek treatment.
The same principles apply at the MVA. Administrative law judges may be more inclined to go easier on drivers who have been through treatment than drivers who have not.
A list of alcohol/drug education/treatment programs may be found on the State website of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
If you are facing serious traffic charges in Maryland state or federal court, call Leonard R. Stamm or Johanna Leshner of Goldstein & Stamm, P.A. at 301-345-0122 for a free consultation.