Notice: New Directions is changing its name to US Court Assessments. Rest assured, you'll get the same high quality assessment services.
Has your attorney instructed you to voluntarily get an alcohol assessment, substance abuse assessment, or mental health assessment before your upcoming hearing before the judge? If so, it doesn’t necessarily mean your attorney is wondering if you have a problem, it’s more likely because your attorney wants to improve your chances of a good outcome in the courtroom.
Getting a professional assessment before going to court may help your case tremendously. Why? Basically, it all comes down to helping the judge get their job done efficiently and in a proficient manner.
Put yourself in the judge’s shoes for a minute. He or she might see 15-20 individuals come to their bench this week that are charged with a crime that involved alcohol, drugs, or some type of aggression in a public or domestic setting. The judge doesn’t know you or your background but wants to learn as much about you that pertains to your case, as quickly as possible, so they can make a sound decision about your case.
Of course, your attorney is going to present you in the best light possible. And the prosecutor? Their whole job is to focus on your guilt in the incident. They may even attempt to focus on negative background information they can find in your past. A professional assessment comes from a third party who is impartial about your court outcome, someone that is simply trying to make an objective determination about you as it relates to the alleged offense, whether that involved substance use, your ability to control your anger, or another related condition.
Being proactive is the smartest approach to navigating a legal charge. This is because judges may see dozens of new cases each week. Like it or not, you are going to fall somewhere on the spectrum of that week’s cases in terms of making a first impression that includes preparedness and attitude.
This first impression isn’t just coming from the police report. It involves your physical appearance, eye contact, and how you speak if asked to. The judge is also going to size up if you take your charges seriously, especially if those charges could overlap with the use of substances or displays of public or domestic aggression. The judge will often wonder if you have a drug or alcohol problem, depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other conditions that contributed to your charges. And one way to very quickly help the judge make a more accurate determination is to show up in court already having a professional assessment completed with a report in hand to be presented by your attorney.
Defendants who have an assessment in hand at their court appearance often stand out positively to a judge. This is because the judge knows you had to take some time and financial investment to get the assessment AND it also provides an opportunity for two very important matters. First, if you don’t have a habitual substance use (or anger) problem the judge may be inclined to be lenient in your case and see the offense as an atypical or out-of-character exception to your normal behavior. Second, if your assessment shows there is a problem, it will also give you professional recommendations to begin decreasing your risk of re-offending. If you received recommendations in your assessment and have already begun to act on those recommendations, it will usually make a strong and positive impression on the judge. When a defendant humbly acknowledges a problem exists and begins to address it early in the legal process, it shows a good attitude, and it also helps the court efficiently resolve your case.
We have seen countless legal cases where individuals scheduled an assessment within 3 days of their DUI or other legal charge and already started to take steps to work on the issue by the time they first met with the judge. This creates a strong and positive impression that stands out from the vast majority of defendants the judge sees daily. While being proactive does not magically make legal consequences go away, it does convey something about your attitude toward the law and your ability to take the offense seriously.
If you are considering getting an assessment for court but have more questions don’t hesitate to call us at 800-671-8589. We can review your case, answer your questions, and help you get a professional assessment completed in a fast, hassle-free manner to help you move past the legal incident and on to better times.