No, absolutely not. As an example, a client is pulled over by the police and has heroin in the car; then they come to us, and we separate the case into basically an investigation at that point in time. What we’re going to do is counsel that client as to what they need to do. This is important because this case is not going to come up in a week or two weeks; this case is going to come up in four to six months, and that’s important because that’s a lot of time that we have to show to the prosecutor, “This person is really taking this seriously; they didn’t wait. They got stopped by the police, and they said, ‘I need a change. I need to do something different with my life because this is not the way I want to live.’ Over the last five months, they’ve been going through drug counseling, they’ve been going to AA or NA, they’ve been doing some sort of program.”
One of the treatment facilities we collaborate with tries to work with the client’s insurance to get them to pay for an intensive outpatient program; this is where you’re going to the meetings to break a habit, an addiction. Whether it’s alcohol or smoking, whether it’s gambling or drugs, you have to break that habit, and you have to fill your time with something else. So one of the programs that we work with tries to do that. They provide you with all those things: they’ll do yoga one day, they’ll do something else the next day, but they just provide you with other outlets to spend your time.
This is really important for a lot of clients, especially those clients who’ve already got a prior felony conviction or maybe two. They have no protections under Proposition 200; in fact, they can be looking at prison time, and we really just want to stop that and provide them with those tools to win. You never beat the addiction; you just have to battle it every single day. So if you have those tools set up, then we can say to the prosecutor, “Look, it’s something that maybe they don’t have completely fixed, but they are doing everything that they can,” and a prosecutor looks at the case and says, “Well, what’s the likelihood that you are going to re-offend?”
If we can show that they have been proactively battling this from day 1, then that risk to re-offend has diminished. So you really put yourself in a better position to say, “Look, if you are going to cut somebody a break, who are you going to cut a break to? If all things are equal and the cases are the exact same but I have been working at my addiction for six months and somebody else hasn’t, who are you going to give the benefit of the doubt to?” And that’s what we want to put our clients into. Unfortunately, it’s not even pushing the problem aside for six months. I’d have to go back and look at the surveys and some of the statistics, but I believe that Arizona has one of the highest non-violent drug offense incarceration statistics.
Again, a lot of these cases may be drugs for sale and start as a small habit, and then it grows. Eventually, you’ll be involved with a dealer to support your habit, and then you get caught with a large amount of drugs, which becomes a class IV felony. If you have two prior convictions, you are looking at a presumptive 10 years in prison if you are unsuccessful at trial.
Unfortunately, we have clients that are facing that right now, and we are doing everything we can to battle that. For example, we have one young gentleman with an unfortunate past, who was involved in undercover sales with marijuana. It was less than a gram total, less than $300 total, and right now, his plea offer is six 1/2 to 10 years, and it’s just unthinkable. That does nothing for him. He’s 22 years old, so the prime of his life is going to be spent getting angry at society. It’s very easy to get drugs in jail, but there’s also a very distinct mental break, and the studies show that it comes at the five-year mark.
Somebody who goes into prison for longer than five years comes out much different than somebody that maybe went to prison for two 1/2 or 3 years. It’s just that mental thought process that has changed.
For more information on Pre-Trial Counseling For Drug Offenders, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (480) 400-1355 today.