In criminal cases that involve alcohol or drugs it is a regular practice for the court to order that the defendant be evaluated by a professional to determine whether the defendant has or had a substance abuse problem and the severity of it. This is either required while the case is pending or prior to sentencing.
How a Substance Use Evaluation Influences Sentencing in MI
The purpose of this evaluation is to determine if the defendant has a substance abuse problem that needs to be addressed in the sentencing phase. This could lead to more probation time, drug or alcohol testing, and/or treatment during a probation term. However, a substance use evaluation can be a key opportunity to tell the defendant’s story to the Judge through an unbiased, neutral party. Therefore, it is extremely important that you obtain a substance use evaluation from a professional that takes the time to understand your situation, your case, your life, and all of the circumstances surrounding. This helps to ensure that when the substance use evaluation is presented to the judge, it presents in a way to help the Judge understand who you are and why you ended up before them. It gives the Judge a chance to see you as a person rather than just as the 20th defendant that came before them that day that they do not know anything about.
Another important purpose of a substance use evaluation is to help with negotiations during your case. A substance use evaluation can help convince a prosecutor that you are different from every other case before them and that your case deserves a different handling or consideration than other cases. For example, if you are a first time offender that does not have a substance abuse problem but made a mistake one night, a substance use evaluation could lead to a reduction in charges, a lesser sentence, or limited probation time and severity than someone presenting with a serious alcohol abuse problem. In the alternative, if someone is struggling with a serious alcohol abuse problem and wants help, the substance use evaluation is a great first step to a lifetime of change.
Who Gets a Substance Use Evaluation
If you have been charged with drunk driving/operating while intoxicated, drug charges, or any substances related to/involved in your criminal case you may be ordered to complete a substance use evaluation. You may be ordered to submit to a substance use evaluation using a court-selected evaluator or you may have the opportunity to hire your own substance use evaluator. You should discuss your options with a Michigan criminal defense attorney to learn what the best option for your particular case may be. Further, you should talk with your criminal defense attorney about topics that are “off limits” to discuss with the evaluator prior to your evaluation. For example, if there has not been a finding of guilt, either by trial or plea, you want to avoid making incriminating statements.
Contact a Skilled Grand Rapids Criminal Lawyer
Substance use evaluations can be extremely helpful tools in criminal cases, whether it is a drunk driving case or a drug case. Your criminal defense attorney should know when and how to use a substance use evaluation to put you in the best position possible. At Tanis Schultz, we have the dedication, grit, and intelligence to represent you in your case. Call us today or use our contact form for a free consultation!