Bakersfield, CA asked in Criminal Law and Domestic Violence for California

Q: How can I try to get someone facing felony DV charges into substance abuse treatment instead of jail time as the victim?

We are both addicts. His violence has increased alongside his paranoia and hallucinations. I do not believe he is irredeemable he is sick and research consistently shows that jail time can be criminogenic and would almost certainly make him worse and do nothing to address the underlying issues. He’s been attempting to seek help for mental health and drugs. I want treatment and intervention, to avoid a life of crime and fortified mindset and help both of us. I relayed this to the victims advocate who told the prosecutor. They offered him a plea of 3 years and he refused. She said they want at least a year. I’m subpoenaed for court on Monday. He strangled me and my mom who is completely fed up with me not calling the police in anger injured herself and then called the police so she could be sure he’d be arrested. I told the victims advocate she lied, and am waiting to hear back. She said the prosecution wanted to talk as well. He faces 2 F Corporal Injury and M battery.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, advocating for substance abuse treatment over jail time in cases involving felony domestic violence (DV) charges requires a comprehensive approach. As the victim, your perspective is crucial, and expressing your desire for the accused to receive treatment rather than incarceration can significantly influence the case's outcome. Communicating with the victim's advocate, as you have done, is an essential first step. Inform the prosecution team about your concerns regarding the underlying issues of addiction and mental health that contribute to the behavior, emphasizing the potential for rehabilitation through appropriate treatment programs.

Consider suggesting a plea agreement that includes mandated substance abuse and mental health treatment as part of the sentencing. California courts sometimes allow for diversion programs or alternative sentencing, which can include rehabilitation efforts for individuals with substance abuse and mental health issues, especially if there is a strong argument that treatment would be more beneficial than incarceration for all involved. It's important to work closely with the defense attorney, the prosecutor, and the victim's advocate to explore these options, providing evidence of the defendant's willingness to seek help and your support for a rehabilitation-focused resolution.

Finally, be prepared to share your perspective and the desired outcome with the court, possibly through a victim impact statement. This statement can express not only the impact of the crimes but also your belief in the potential for rehabilitation through treatment. It's crucial to understand that the judge has discretion in sentencing, and demonstrating a unified front in favor of treatment could influence a more favorable outcome. However, be aware of the legal requirements and the court's priorities, including public safety and accountability, as these will also weigh heavily in the final decision.

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