What is a substance abuse evaluation?

Why would you get a substance abuse evaluation if you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor? When should you get it? How can it help in your case? Here is what you need to know about the benefits of a credible substance abuse evaluation.

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How a Substance Abuse Evaluation Can Help

If you are charged with drunk driving, a substance abuse crime, any offense involving drugs or alcohol, you have a history of alcohol or drug abuse, it is probably in your best interest to have a substance abuse evaluation done as soon as possible. If you are seeking restoration of your driver’s license or restricted driving privileges from a court or the Secretary of State, a substance abuse evaluation is necessary. Many people do not have a clear understanding of what a substance abuse evaluation entails or why it may be important to getting the best outcome in your case.

A substance abuse evaluation is used to identify the possible presence of a drug or alcohol problem. If it is determined that there is an issue with drugs or alcohol, the substance abuse evaluation will determine the extent of the problem and formulate a diagnosis. The evaluation also allows for the development of a treatment plan designed to address the person’s specific circumstances. In any criminal case, the advantage of getting the evaluation as early as possible is so that the defendant can be proactive in seeking treatment or education if necessary. Judges and prosecutors look favorably upon a person who seeks an understanding of any problem that may exist and who takes steps to help themselves.

Substance Abuse Evaluation – Frequently Asked Questions

The answers to the following questions are very general and do not apply to anyone’s particular situation. If you are accused of a crime, you should not make any decisions without the advice of your lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, it would be best for you to retain counsel immediately.

Should I get a Substance Abuse Evaluation on my own?

When a person is accused of an offense involving drugs or alcohol, it is generally advantageous to get a substance abuse evaluation as soon as possible. If you obtain a substance abuse evaluation of your own volition and follow any recommendations given to you, a court will consider your proactive rehabilitation positively when setting bond and at sentencing. Also, a prosecutor may be more inclined to offer a substantial plea bargain to a person who took it upon themselves to get help, or at least determine if there is an alcohol or drug issue.

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Should I wait for the judge to order me to have a substance abuse evaluation?

In most cases, you would not want to wait for a judge to order you to undergo a substance abuse evaluation. If there was time to get an evaluation before appearing in a courtroom and you fail to get it done, you’ve missed an opportunity to mitigate your charges, the bond, and your sentence.

Should I get a recommendation for a substance abuse evaluator from the court staff?

Getting a recommendation from a court employee, probation officer, pretrial service officer, or anyone affiliated with a court is probably not in your best interest. Courts generally affiliate with the evaluators who liberally diagnose subjects as addicts or dependents. Judges tend to gravitate to evaluators who recommend extensive drug and alcohol therapy, treatment, and education. The most reliable and trustworthy evaluations are performed by private experts who do not have an agenda or bias against people accused of criminal offenses.

Can I pay an evaluator to say that I do not have a drug or alcohol problem?

There are disreputable people in every profession, including substance abuse evaluators. An evaluator who is willing to give a particular diagnosis in exchange for money will have no credibility with a judge. Judges are familiar with most evaluators and will trust the ones they know are legitimate and honest. Using an evaluator who is known to have a lack of integrity may backfire, and a judge may assume you were trying to mislead the court.

If I have a retained criminal defense attorney, will he or she pay for the evaluation?

Under the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer is prohibited from paying a client’s costs. The money you’ve paid your lawyer for legal fees would not be used to pay for costs incurred in your case. Substance abuse evaluations frequently cost around $300.00, and that is a minimal investment considering how helpful the report and your compliance will be court.

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If my lawyer told me what to do, do I still need a substance abuse evaluation?

Lawyers who tell clients to go to AA (Alcohol Anonymous) or a similar program, therapy, or drug treatment, do their clients a disservice. Being a lawyer does not qualify someone to diagnose a drug or alcohol issue, offer treatment options, or render a prognosis. A certified, licensed substance evaluator will have the most credibility with the prosecutor and judge. A judge will consider things like AA meetings at the suggestion of an attorney as attempts to manipulate the court and not a genuine effort to get help. For individuals who do have a legitimate alcohol or drug issue, it would be best for their health and future to have the evaluation done professionally.

How does a substance abuse evaluation work? What happens?

A substance abuse evaluation typically consists of a detailed interview, called a psycho-social interview, with a certified substance abuse evaluator or treatment provider. The evaluator will review the subject’s substance abuse and criminal history, driving record, and the arrest report if it is available. Sometimes the subject is required to provide a drug and alcohol urinalysis screening as well. Based on the interview, supporting documents, and results of the urinalysis, the substance abuse evaluator will typically make a diagnosis and a recommendation for a specific treatment program. If the evaluation is related to a driver’s license restoration or related to a person’s ability to drive, the substance abuse evaluator should also provide a prognosis for continued sobriety or abstinence.

Reasons for a Substance Abuse Evaluation

You may want to get a substance abuse evaluation if any of the following apply to you:

  • you are charged with OWI, DUI, OWPD, OWVI, or any other drunk driving type charge,
  • you are charged with a violent offense, such as domestic violence, and there is an allegation of alcohol or drug use or abuse,
  • you are charged with disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace, and there is an allegation of intoxication,
  • you are charged with a crime, and you have a history of addiction,
  • you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor, and you have a drug or alcohol-related criminal history, or
  • you feel you may have a problem, and you might need help.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys Defending Accusations Directly or Indirectly Involving Alcohol, Drugs, and Controlled Substances

Judges and prosecutors know that most cases involve either the consumption of intoxicating substances or a defendant with potential alcohol or drug issues. This is an accurate assumption in many cases; however, judges and prosecutors often falsely conclude there is a substance abuse issue and operate under that misconception. The criminal defense lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have extensive experience defending clients with and without drug and alcohol issues. We know how to convince a judge or prosecutor that although an offense may have involved alcohol or drugs, a client does not necessarily have an addiction or dependence. Alternatively, we work with experts and therapists who can provide assistance, guidance, and therapy, if needed, for clients who have or are struggling with addiction.

We treat all of our clients with dignity and respect, and our lawyers and staff will never judge you. We are here to help you and provide the highest possible caliber of criminal defense. Nothing will stop us from fighting to protect and defend you. Our goal in every case is to achieve the best possible result, and we stop at nothing to make that happen.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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