The value of court-ordered rehab is being questioned these days due to a growing trend to see drug and other offenses as health and safety problems rather than criminal law issues.[1] For many years, the law took a lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key approach to drug offenders.

Those times are changing. Former President Barack Obama pardoned almost 2,000 people during his eight years in office. Many of these individuals received harsh drug sentences for relatively minor offenses. In contrast, Obama’s predecessor, also a two-term President, granted less than two hundred pardons.[2]

Despite these ongoing social shifts, court-ordered rehab is still an integral part of pretty much every drug-related sentence in Monroe County. The same thing applies to alcohol evaluations in a DWI.

Clinical settings, like substance abuse rehab, often seem out of place in judicial settings. But fundamentally, these programs have different objectives. Therefore, a Rochester defense lawyer must anticipate some issues and be ready to deal with them. Otherwise, the defendant’s probation could be at risk.

Some Nuts and Bolts of Court-Ordered Rehab

Statistically, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs are usually effective, at least in the short term.[3] This effectiveness usually fades after people go back to their old habits and old friends. However, in many cases, recovery is permanent, or at least long-lasting.

Typically, judges let defendants choose their own drug rehab facilities. Usually, the judge only sets general parameters, like program length. Many people select a facility that accepts their health insurance plans.

DWI alcohol evaluations work a little differently. Generally, the judge orders the defendant to complete a specific program. The state or county usually subsidizes the costs of such programs. These rules vary in different counties and even among different courts in the same county.

Possible Issues in Court-Ordered Rehab Programs

No matter what program the defendant must complete, here are three common pitfalls to avoid:

1. Don’t Miss Any Appointments

Most people see the doctor on their own time. Usually, the doctor is in a familiar location. Furthermore, they schedule appointments at their convenience and usually cancel at the last minute with little or no penalty.

Court-ordered rehab programs or substance abuse evaluations are different. In most cases, the office tells defendants when and where to show up. If the assigned appointment is on the other side of town in the middle of the day, so be it.

It’s imperative to keep all appointments, even if they only involve follow-up or completing paperwork. Failure to appear usually causes clinics to add the dreaded “uncooperative” label to a file. At that point, many court-ordered rehab facilities dismiss program participants. Additionally, most judges are not very happy that defendants seemingly blew their second chances in these situations.

2. Don’t Deny the Problem

Denial, which is not just a river in Egypt, is the second major issue, especially for first-time offenders. Many facilities follow the 12-step recovery model, at least to an extent. The first step in this process is admitting that you have a problem. Unfortunately, if participants deny they have a problem, some facilities dismiss these individuals.

For example, let’s assume Brenda bought a few crack rocks for the first time from Kick. Unbeknownst to Brenda, Kick was an undercover officer. Kick immediately arrests Brenda for possession. The judge orders Brenda to attend court-ordered rehab, and the counselor asks her to admit she has a drug problem. When Brenda says she doesn’t have a crack addiction, the counselor might conclude that she’s in denial and therefore cannot be helped.

3. Choose the Right Rehab Facility

These issues are relatively easy to avoid. As mentioned, most defendants may choose their rehab facilities. A Rochester defense lawyer can help a first-time offender select a facility that specializes in such cases.

If worst comes to worst and the facility dismisses the defendant, a lawyer can quickly find another. Judges usually don’t particularly care about the location or effectiveness of court-ordered rehab, as long as the defendant is in a facility somewhere.

Work with a Dedicated Attorney

Court-ordered rehab could be life-changing, or it could be very aggravating. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester defense lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. We routinely handle matters in Monroe County and nearby jurisdictions.






The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.

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