Guest Columnist – Attorney Rick Hutchinson of Hutchinson & Huffman, P.A.

Close-up of cuffed criminal hands

If you or a loved one is facing jail time because of a crime committed while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you are not alone. More than half of people that are sentenced to jail or imprisonment had a criminal case that involved drugs and/or alcohol. In fact, here are some interesting statistics to consider:

  • 80% of criminal offenders abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • Nearly 50% of jail and prison inmates are clinically addicted to either drugs or alcohol.
  • Just over 60% of individuals arrested for most types of crimes have positive drug tests for illegal substances in their system.

Substance Abuse and Crimes

Studies have found that there are three common types of drug-related crimes. These are:

  • Use-Related crimes: These are crimes committed by a person who has actually taken the drug. The drug alters their mindset, disables critical thinking skills, and can lead to irrational action resulting in an illegal act.
  • Economic-Related crime: These are crimes where the defendant may have committed a crime to fund their drug habit. Typically, these types of crimes are either theft or prostitution.
  • System-Related crime: These are crimes that result from the structure of the drug system. Typical system-related crimes include the production, the manufacture, the transportation, and/or the sale of drugs. Crimes could also be violent and directly related to the production or sale of drugs, like a turf war between dealers.

Alcohol Abuse and Crimes

Although the negative effects of drinking are widely known, it is still a legal substance which means that there are many more people that can abuse it. Alcohol is closely correlated with many crimes and social issues because it directly alters the user’s mindset.

In fact, alcohol is a factor in 40% of all violent crimes today. Even the Department of Justice has found that 37% of almost 2 million convicted offenders currently in jail have reported that they were under the influence of alcohol when arrested.

What’s worse is that a large amount of the crimes committed while abusing alcohol are some of the most violent crimes, including rape, murder, and child/spousal abuse. Unfortunately, when these crimes take place, courts are typically not as lenient in recommending rehabilitation in lieu of jail time. Since they are crimes of malice, offenders face the harshest punishments including imprisonment and fines.

Courts Support Treatment and Recovery When Appropriate

It is unlikely that a court will show any leniency when a violent crime has taken place—even if the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is especially true if a life was lost because of the careless acts that occurred from substance abuse. After all, there are families and loved ones that are on the other side that wish for justice to be served.

But, there are many cases where a defendant is remorseful of the crime committed and show a strong desire to kick the habit that may have catalyzed the entire crime—whether it’s drug or alcohol abuse. A defendant may be eligible for court-appointed rehabilitation, if they qualify. Qualifying factors include:

  • Proving that the crime was nonviolent.
  • Proving that the crime committed took place solely because of the drug or alcohol use that was present at the time.
  • Proving that the defendant shows a desire to get past his or her addiction.
  • The defendant does qualify for a probationary sentence.

Trust A Criminal Defense Attorney To Fight For Your Right To Rehab

If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges in West Palm Beach, Florida or the surrounding region, contact attorney Rick Hutchinson at Hutchinson and Huffman, P.A., for a free and fully confidential case consultation.

Headshot of Criminal Defense Attorney Rick HutchinsonRick Hutchinson, Esq.
Hutchinson & Huffman, P.A.