A Guide to Court-Ordered Drug and Alcohol Treatment in Monroe County

A Guide to Court-Ordered Drug and Alcohol Treatment in Monroe County

If you’ve been busted for illegal possession or consumption of a substance, you may have to undergo court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment. Learn what the implications are, along with your options as the defendant.

New York, like most other states, usually requires DWI defendants to undergo alcohol treatment. The Vehicle and Traffic Code sets out the general procedure. The specific procedure varies in different counties and even in different courts.

Generally, if the defendant blew less than a .15, the law requires an alcohol “screening.” Usually, a screening is a written test with questions about the frequency of alcohol use and other habits. If the defendant refused a chemical test or blew higher than a .15, there is a mandatory “assessment.” A certified counselor must perform this assessment. This professional usually recommends inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Some alternatives might be available. Instead of an alcohol evaluation, a defendant might be able to take the seven-week Impaired Driver Program. However, specific qualifications apply. For example, the defendant must normally be a New York resident. Furthermore, the judge may waive the treatment program if the defendant shows “good cause.” We’ve never seen a defendant win this argument.

In most cases, the assessment or Impaired Driver Program must be completed before sentencing. Many a favorable plea bargain has unraveled because the defendant had issues satisfying this requirement. A Rochester DWI lawyer can ensure that defendants get the help they need in this critical phase. Furthermore, an attorney ensures that the bar is not set too high.

Twelve-Step Program after DWI

Courts often allow defendants to join twelve-step programs if the DWI was a first-time and one-off affair. For example, Tim, who has no prior DWIs, might get a little carried away at a bachelor party. Alcoholics Anonymous, which began in Ohio in 1935, now has over two million members. AA usually does not help people who are chemically dependent on alcohol. But it often does help people who have trouble controlling their impulses and who need a solid support network.

AA is usually a lifetime process. Most people start by attending meetings several times a week. Then, as they progress through the steps, they attend meetings less and less.

These groups usually meet in churches or community centers. Most likely, there are several chapters near a defendant’s home or office. Furthermore, there are no mandatory dues, and the process is entirely confidential. Twelve-step programs do not turn everyone’s life around, but they certainly cannot hurt.

Usually, Monroe County judges want a defendant to reach a milestone, such as a period of sobriety or several meetings before they approve the plea bargain. An attorney needs to make sure the defendant engages with a nearby group and reaches that milestone as quickly as possible.

Outpatient Treatment and Rochester DWI Lawyers

Most DWI defendants must obtain outpatient treatment. These programs vary significantly. Some are just short of inpatient programs, while others are twelve-step programs on the other end of the scale.

Convenience and cost are sometimes concerns in this area. There are many outpatient alcohol treatment programs in Monroe County, but they aren’t as numerous as twelve-step programs. As for cost, these programs usually are not cheap. Health insurance might or might not cover the expense.

Before sending a defendant to a program, many Rochester DWI lawyers scrutinize the intake portion. Some programs require participants to admit they are alcoholics. If the defendant denies this, the counselor maintains that the defendant is in denial and cannot be helped.

As for the specific program requirements, most defendants understandably want the bare minimum. However, a Rochester DWI attorney must ensure that the bare minimum is sufficient for the judge.

Inpatient Treatment

Defendants with two prior DWIs or a BAC level above .24 must usually complete inpatient treatment. These programs typically use highly invasive measures, like drugs and other therapy. Additionally, after they leave the center, most participants must spend some time at a halfway house or similar facility.

Counselors usually only recommend inpatient treatment in extreme cases. In addition to a person who clearly has a severe alcohol problem, inpatient treatment might also be appropriate for extremely belligerent defendants.

Talk to a Diligent Attorney About Court-Ordered Drug and Alcohol Treatment

The alcohol evaluation can make or break your DWI plea bargain agreement. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester DWI lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. After-hours visits are available.

What You Should Know About Miranda Rights

What You Should Know About Miranda Rights

Most people who have seen a cop movie or TV show are somewhat familiar with the Miranda Rights. However, most people do not know how broad these rights are and how early these rights apply in the arrest and detention process.

Furthermore, most people have never heard of Berghuis v. Thompkins, a 2010 Supreme Court case which, according to various legal scholars, has “turned the clocks back” and effectively “gutted Miranda.” Berghuis requires defendants to invoke their Miranda rights affirmatively. Simply not saying anything during questioning could be considered a waiver.

Your Miranda Rights: What to Know

Although the Supreme Court handed down Miranda v. Arizona in 1966, failure to properly administer the Miranda rights is one of the most common procedural defenses in Monroe County criminal cases. The burden of proof is so high in a criminal case that it’s almost impossible for the state to obtain a conviction if a Rochester criminal lawyer can exclude any illegally obtained evidence.

How We Got Here

When Republican President Dwight Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren to the Supreme Court in 1953, Eisenhower had no idea Warren would preside over one of the most liberal courts. The Warren Court is widely known for civil rights decisions, like Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark desegregation decision. The Justices also issued several important criminal law rulings, such as:

  • Terry v. Ohio (officers need reasonable suspicion before they detain suspects),
  • Katz v. United States (investigators must have a search warrant to tap a phone),
  • United States v. Wade (limits on police lineups),
  • Escobedo v. Illinois (the right to remain silent),
  • Brady v. Maryland (prosecutors must give exculpatory evidence to defense lawyers),
  • Gideon v. Wainwright (right to counsel) and
  • Mapp v. Ohio (search warrants and the exclusionary rule).

The pendulum of justice swings back and forth. We mentioned the recent limits on Miranda above. Search warrants are another excellent example. Over the years, courts have carved out so many exceptions to the warrant requirement that the rule itself does not come up very much anymore.

Content Issues and the Miranda Rights

The Miranda rights cover the Fifth Amendment’s right to remain silent and the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel. The Fifth Amendment covers more than verbal silence. It also applies to physical silence. Defendants need not appear in lineups, pose for pictures, or perform field sobriety tests, like the walk-and-turn. To be sure, there are consequences for such refusals.

Police officers almost always assume uncooperative defendants have something to hide and are therefore guilty. However, the arrest process is a lot like a runaway train. Once it starts, it only ends one way, at least in most cases.

We mentioned DWIs and the Fifth Amendment. There are some Sixth Amendment issues in this area as well. Since the chemical test is such an essential point in these cases, many Rochester criminal lawyers have argued that defendants should be able to talk to lawyers before they say yes or no.

Incidentally, the Miranda Rights are not just a formality. Officers cannot read defendants their rights if the defendants are passed out. Additionally, if English is not a defendant’s first language, the police department must generally provide an interpreter.

Timing Issues

In the movies, cops usually read defendants their rights as they handcuff them. In the real world, if police officers wait that long, they have already violated the law.

Under current law, defendants must be apprised of their Miranda rights when custodial interrogation begins. Let’s break these things down a bit.

Custody does not mean confinement. Instead, defendants are in custody when they do not feel free to leave. Most people don’t feel free to leave once an officer says, “license and registration, please.” Some people don’t feel free to go when they see flashing lights in their rearview mirrors.

Similarly, interrogation does not mean asking questions. Experienced officers know how to extract information without asking questions. So, if a police officer says anything without first administering the Miranda warnings, whatever the defendant says or does next is probably inadmissible in court.

Talk to a Diligent Attorney About Your Miranda Rights

If officers don’t properly Mirandize defendants, judges usually throw the cases out of court. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester criminal lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. We routinely handle matters in Monroe County and nearby jurisdictions.