Getting the chance to start over, to learn from this experience, and to make better choices going forward. These are the goals of both me and my newbie clients. Fortunately, there are many paths available for the first-offender, but picking the right path for you is absolutely something you need an attorney to help you with. Depending on the offense, your age, school/employment, and community record, we will work together to find your fresh start. This experience has been an educational process on its own, but with my help, we can work to convince the court that the self-imposed sanctions (your Pre-Court Plan) is sufficient to discourage you from ever making the same poor choice(s) again. Essentially, we're fast-tracking an otherwise standard process and crossing the finish line in record time, and with an exceptional outcome to show for your efforts. For most newbie clients, they'll follow my Phase 1: Entry Level Offender Plan:
Phase 1: Entry Level Offender Plan -
- Education (Level 1 Misdemeanor Offender Program);
- Insight (Individual or Support Group Attendance - if applicable);
- Awareness & Application: One-on-one discussions with an individual counselor or your attorney, focusing on applying the lessons learned to make better decisions in your future.
- Community Service (10-25 hours depending on offense charged).
(2) The Misguided. If you knew then what you know now, you would have never gone done this path. True, but also unfair to you. You let a moment of crisis affect your better decision-making and it ultimately ended up with you on the losing end of the stick. That's fine, we can recover from this; but it's going to take more work than your run-in-the-mill "first offender." Your circumstances - whether they're a product of an argument, impulsion, or a cry for help - suggest to the court that, "there's something more going on here..." Mark my words. Time and time again, I see hapless defendants walking into court looking totally unprepared to answer those tough questions from the judge and/or probation officer. The "why don't you tell me what happened" hook from the Judge of Probation Officer won't necessarily be your path to redemption. People often come into court with the misconception that by just telling their side of the story, this can all be worked out. WRONG! By the time you start defending your actions the judge has already formed an opinion about your credibility (fact: it takes a matter of seconds for our brains to respond favorably to a new person or not).
Fortunately, my approach for your case is to neutralize those bad facts - things that can't be justified - and instead lead with how you have responded to this negative circumstance in your life. Just about everyone you'll see in court wishes they didn't have to be there. The judge grows tired of "I'm sorry's" and "I just got this new job" appeals for compassion. What you need is ACTION, which speaks louder than any words you could ever say. Through your ACTIONS, you have the ammunition to identify and explain why you made the poor decision you did, but most significantly, to point to the proactive steps you've taken as the appropriate measures to give the judge the assurance that you truly have learned from this experience, and will apply this new knowledge to make better decisions going forward. For my Misguided clients, I typically recommend my Phase 2: Early Intervention / Crisis Management Plan:
Phase 2: Early Intervention / Crisis Management Plan -
- Mental Health and/or Substance Abuse Screening & Evaluation (focus is to identify any underlying mental health or substance related illnesses that may have contributed to your poor decision which prompted the criminal case against you).
- Education (Level 2 or above Misdemeanor Offender Program / Weekend Recovery Program).
- Support Group Attendance (3-4x before your first court date).
- Sobriety and/or Compliance with medical directives (i.e., use scripts as directed).
- Community Service (20-40 hours).
(3) The Hopeless. You are my favorite client! Your problems are complex and deep-seeded. Your legal issues are entangled and the collateral consequences are life-changing. You can't get by with a few educational classes and community service. You're not a first-time-offender. You're not misguided. You're a mess, or so you think. Listen up: All lives are salvageable! All hope is not lost. You've found me, after all. I have a plan for you, but it's not my plan that will create the change needed to save your life from destruction. I will give you the road map; I will counsel your intensely; and I will hold you accountable every step of the way. My plan for the "Hopeless Client" begins with identifying the emotional, environmental, and social influences that foster this bad behavior. You know well enough not to do the things that hurt yourself, your future, and your family. It's my job to put what is most important for you, right in front of you. Now, I can't help everyone, but for those who are truly, 100% ready for change; let's get to work. First, you need an active listener to help identify the problems that you have been unable to address on your own. Second, you need to accept that you are powerless to overcome these vices on your own. Third, you need to have structure to keep you from straying off your path to new life. Accountability is key, but personal commitment to change is paramount. The change needed to save your case/life from the pits of the criminal justice system won't come over night. It will be a relentless effort from you every single day - and the journey cannot end at the conclusion of your Sentencing hearing. The Judge may not be completely convinced of your new leaf, but the Judge is only responsible for a small part of your life - you get the balance! And when push comes to shove, your back is against the wall, you can either quit or fight for new life. If you're willing to change, I'm willing to stand by your side and make sure you weather this storm. I will be your counselor, your attorney, and your ally. If you're willing to commit to my Phase 3: Relapse Management / Intensive Monitoring Plan, I will not allow the court to discount or discredit your demonstrated commitment to change.
Phase 3: Relapse Management / Intensive Monitoring Plan -
- Updated Substance Abuse Evaluation and/or Mental Health Evaluation.
- Intensive Outpatient Counseling (3-4x weekly) and/or Residential, Inpatient Treatment (30 days minimum).
- Daily alcohol testing and/or weekly drug screens.
- Support group attendance (4-5x weekly) + adding a Sponsor, if appropriate.
- House arrest: may attend work, school medical appointments, court appointments, and meetings with your lawyer. If you have time for anything else, you have time to dedicate to the action items noted above.
- Community Service (40-80 hours).
Still wondering if we're a right fit to work together? Let's talk over the phone for a free 20 minute consultation! 248-348-0496, or email me at Mike@kellykellylaw.com
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