Addiction Treatment and Legal Issues
Drugs and alcohol can take away control over your life; and the consequences can be disastrous. As a result, addiction often goes hand in hand with a variety of legal issues.
Addiction to drugs and/or alcohol has the potential to significantly alter a person’s life path.
When people are intoxicated, high or in withdrawal, they often exhibit behaviours that are completely out of character and may take actions they would never even contemplate under normal circumstances.
Drugs and alcohol can take away the addicts’ control over their lives; and the consequences can be disastrous.
As a result, addiction often goes hand in hand with a variety of legal issues.
Common offences related to addiction
The most common offences committed by persons addicted to drugs and/or alcohol include:
- Driving under the influence
- Possession of illegal substances
- Disorderly conduct
- Domestic violence
It is important to understand that persons caught up in legal proceedings as a direct result of their battle with addiction are much less likely to re-offend if their addiction treatment is prioritised over punishment for their offences.
Research suggests that if addiction is the cause for unlawful behaviour, any such behaviour will cease as an individual recovers from their addiction.
Addicts are not criminals; they are merely individuals making unreasonable choices whilst under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
The good news is that most courts will look favourably on a defendant showing the will and initiative to enter into addiction treatment and more often than not will be happy to work with the treatment facility to give the defendant the best chance of recovery and rehabilitation.
We are aware that dealing with legal proceedings on top of struggling with an addiction can be incredibly overwhelming, so we have qualified staff members who can assist our clients with most legal issues.
We are committed to assisting clients with legal issues because we know successful addiction treatment will ultimately produce a better result than fines or incarceration.
Addiction and addict behaviour cannot be out-policed, they need to be addressed head-on and with great commitment, and this is simply not possible outside a rehabilitation facility.
Common legal issues & how we can help
A person who has not yet been convicted or sentenced for an offence can be released on bail while they await proceedings. This means an amount of money specified by the court is paid to the bondsmen to insure the defendant’s cooperation with the court, at the courts discretion there may be no actual bond payment required but the person will have to comply with their bail conditions. More offending will generally lead to tighter bail conditions.
Conditions of bail usually include that no further offenses are committed and that the defendant attends all dates set by the court. The defendant may also be required to check in with local authorities on a regular basis and often is not permitted to travel more than a short distance from their place of residence.
How we can help
Our client liaison has extensive experience when it comes to dealing with the court system. If a potential client is currently released on bail and awaiting further legal proceedings, the first step we take is to attempt to have bail conditions altered (if required) to allow the client to enter addiction treatment without violating bail conditions.
We may also need to appeal to the court to adjourn (delay) further proceedings until the client has finished our 90-day residential addiction treatment program. If a resident of our program is required to make regular contact with the authorities we suggest moving their case to a reporting centre close by our rehabilitation facility or sometimes even have this condition suspended until residential treatment is complete.
It is important to know that if a person is currently on bail, it is best to act quickly and get into addiction treatment without delay. Courts are often willing to adjourn all hearings once, but if a defendant continually asks for more time as they wait to enter rehab, this will often be interpreted as a stalling tactic.
If a client completes residential treatment successfully and enters into transitional housing or our aftercare program, the judiciary often looks upon their case in a new light and is more lenient when it comes to imposing sentences. The Judiciary has two goals, that is to punish offenders and to rehabilitate offenders. If the individual has undergone rehabilitation of their own volition the court will take this into account, providing the individual has engaged seriously in their treatment.
The Hader Clinic Queensland can provide clients facing legal proceedings with statements from our psychologists and counsellors. We are also in close contact with the clients’ lawyers and case managers in order to keep them updated on progress and successes.
We have had a number of cases in which clients have had potential jail sentences reduced to good behaviour bonds or even just monetary fines, based on their commitment to recovery.
A person is granted release on parole after having served a portion of a jail sentence. The point of the parole is to allow the person to serve their remaining sentence in the community, whilst under close supervision of the courts.
Parole conditions vary depending on individual circumstances; they may include work or study requirements or specify a place of residence; however, all individuals on parole are required to check in with their parole officer regularly, take regular drug tests and abstain from committing any further offenses.
How we can help
As the parole system is designed to assist re-entry into the community, parole authorities tend to look very favourably at individuals willing to enter an addiction treatment program. Entering addiction treatment is also a good way for people to learn to manage their addiction while transitioning back into normal day to day life.
In past instances of dealing with clients in this circumstance, we have found the parole board to be more than accommodating when it comes to transferring a client to a reporting centre close to our treatment facility and make adjustments to a client’s residential requirements.
When treatment professionals, parole authorities and the client are on the same page when it comes to the direction of their recovery and rehabilitation, the outcomes have been overwhelmingly positive.
The ultimate aim to re-introduce a client into a healthy, productive and happy lifestyle is much easier to achieve through co-operation of all parties involved, as it forms a support network that spans across all challenges a recovering client might face.
When dealing with legal issues, it is important to understand the distinction between civil/family court and district and supreme courts.
The Civil Court deal with legal matters that are considered relatively minor – but are by no means not to be taken seriously – and will not necessarily result in a criminal record for the defendant.
It deals with all matters from neighbourhood disputes to theft and can impose a variety of penalties, including fines, return of funds and/or items, participation in community service and, in some cases, jail sentences.
When dealing with legal matters, it is in your best interest to keep matters within the jurisdiction of the civil court, as proceedings are quicker, less expensive and mostly yield a better outcome for the defendant.
Family court, as the name suggests, deals with legal matter arising within a family, often including domestic violence (physical and otherwise) or the endangerment of dependent children.
It is a sad fact that addiction to drugs and/or alcohol often places a tremendous strain on relationships and can lead to family breakdowns if addiction treatment is not available.
Divorce hearings and custody claims are among the most common matters conducted in family court.
How we can help
If a client is in the midst of civil or family court proceedings when they chose to enter our treatment facility, our main goal is to get all proceedings adjourned (delayed) until the 90-day residential addiction treatment program is completed.
This means that the client has time to focus on recovery and has a chance to show goodwill and determination to get back on track at the next court hearing.
The Hader Clinic Queensland also provides in-depth reports about clients’ recovery, progress and psychological wellbeing to the courts, which more often than not works in their favour.
In our years of dealing with clients facing legal issues, we have found that completing our residential treatment always works in their favour when it comes to resolving legal disputes.
While this does not mean that our clients’ actions have no consequences, it means that any sentencing takes into consideration that a genuine effort to get back to being a productive member of society has been made.
This is especially true in family court matters, when the safety of children is frequently the main consideration.
Entering an addiction treatment program is the best way to become a better, more present and more capable parent, which is ultimately what the family court seeks to provide.
A good behaviour bond is widely considered to be the last chance to rehabilitate before a person faces significant jail time or large fines.
The court can impose a good behaviour bond instead of a jail sentence if they feel this is reasonable and the duration usually varies from six months to three years.
Whilst on a good behaviour bond, a person must comply absolutely with all conditions set by the court, as the good behaviour bond can be revoked and commuted to a jail sentence.
Conditions can include a fixed place of residence, regular contact with authorities, no further offences to be committed and drug testing.
Being on a good behaviour bond means that there will be no permanent criminal record.
How we can help
Experience has taught us that entering addiction treatment once a good behaviour bond has been imposed for charges connected to drug and/or alcohol abuse is highly advisable.
Not only does it demonstrate a genuine desire to make positive changes to the judiciary, it also makes complying the bond conditions easier in the crucial first months.
Our client liaison will work closely with the courts to ensure the bond conditions are altered (if required) to accommodate a stay at our rehabilitation facility and report back regularly on the clients’ engagement and progress in the program.
If a client successfully completes the 90-day residential addiction treatment program and enters our transitional housing afterwards, their chances of complying with the conditions of their good behaviour bond are much improved.
Once a good behaviour bond has been served to the end without violation, the person is free to continue on their path to reclaiming a healthy and productive life without a mark on their permanent record and they can avoid dealing with any social stigma attached to having a criminal record.
Even though a good behaviour bond is set for an extended period of time and can seem daunting, if the right steps are taken it can represent a chance to change direction and head towards a brighter future.
A domestic violence order is put in place when there is evidence of violent conduct within a co-habitant relationship.
The person filing for a DVO is ‘the aggrieved’ (victim of violence), the person subject to the DVO is ‘the respondent’ (perpetrator of violence). It is also worth noting that often Police will impose the DVO without the aggrieved wanting to or even having a say. This is so that if abusive behaviour continue the Police are able to act and if necessary can make an arrest.
DVOs serve the purpose of making violent or generally abusive behaviour within a relationship a criminal offense; so while the DVO itself has no impact on the respondent’s permanent record, any violation of the DVO will be treated as a criminal offence.
Unfortunately, some people struggling with addiction can loose control in domestic situations, due to their inability to deal with any form of confrontation or stress in combination with their addiction, and end up being in a situation where a DVO is part of the consequences of their actions.
How we can help
In case of DVOs the best-case scenario we can work towards achieving is to have a good behaviour DVO in place rather than a non-contact DVO.
This means that a client is still permitted to be in contact with the aggrieved and (if applicable) their children, rather than being denied all access.
However, when it comes to DVOs there is little else we can do, aside from helping our clients to reach a better place within themselves that will in turn enable them to make amends, where possible, and repair any relationships that were harmed in the course of their addiction.
Entering and completing addiction treatment is always going to lead to a better situation, regardless of whether or not some legal issues remain at the end of the day.
When a person has descended so deeply into the cycle of addiction that their actions have made a DVO necessary, it is likely that addiction treatment will be the first big step on a long road of repairing that relationship.
Being able to see their actions for what they were and taking responsibility for them can be a tremendous leap forward in a client’s personal healing journey.
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