Friday, March 12, 2010

My new cases

I thought it might be time to have a look at the new cases I had come in this week. It's the first batch for about ten days, and after the last lot I thought maybe I should mark those that appear, to me, to be related to some form of substance addiction.

Specifically, I will asterisk (*) those cases where the crime itself looks to be addiction related, or from the parts of the file I can't share with you, an addiction appears likely to have been the underlying cause of the offense.

Addictions I will consider:
  • drugs (including pot)
  • alcohol

Addictions I will not consider:
  • punching wives/girlfriends
  • sex
  1. Possession of controlled substance - cocaine (state jail felony) *
  2. Driving while intoxicated, 3rd or more offense (third degree felony) *
  3. Credit card abuse (state jail felony)
  4. Delivery of controlled substance - cocaine (state jail felony) *
  5. Possession of controlled substance - cocaine (state jail felony) *
  6. Driving while intoxicated, 3rd or more offense (third degree felony) *
  7. Possession of controlled substance - cocaine (state jail felony) *
  8. Possession of controlled substance - marijuana (state jail felony) *
  9. Possession of controlled substance - meth (state jail felony) *
  10. Aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury (no addiction issues, though a wine bottle is the alleged weapon!) (second degree felony)
  11. Burglary of a habitation (second degree felony)
  12. Credit card abuse (state jail felony)
  13. Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle (state jail felony)
So, by my count eight of my thirteen new cases are addiction-related. Sounds about par for the course.


  1. And five of the eight involve amounts of cocaine less than the size of a Sweet-N-Low packet. We're all safer now!

    In your view, does prosecuting those cases accomplish anything positive at all besides justifying employment of more cops, prosecutors and prison guards? If so, what?

  2. A lot of drugs lead to one commit other crimes in order to get more drugs, but I find it strange that you consider pot to be one of those drugs. I don't know about you, but defense attorneys and defendants are always telling me they have drug problems and need treatment. I always ask which drug is the basis for the problem. If they say pot, I know they are just trying to get lighter punishment. I've seen a few judges do the same thing. It's been proven it's not even physically addictive. I've been friends with a lot of hardcore potheads throughout the years, so I just don't buy it. Real drug addicts present in such a different manner, in my opinion. For example, I can't imagine a straight guy who is "jonesing" for pot so bad that he would be willing to perform fellatio on another man for pot...just sayin. You're normally so reasonable, which is why I'd like to hear your take on this.

    As for the other comment, I think small possession cases are silly too; however, it's hard to tell who can handle it and who can't. Some people can do a little cocaine every now and then recreationally and it's no big deal. On the other hand, some people get addicted and they start stealing, etc... to support their habit and therein lies the problem. Sure, I'd rather cut the head off the beast than nip at its heels, but I look at it as trying to prevent other crimes.

  3. Grits- In some of the POCS cases, good is accomplished. Just this morning I dealt with a CPS case where the woman was well on her way to getting her kids back, getting much needed services, and otherwise putting her life back in order. The help that she got as a result of being on probation was certainly a contributing factor to that good outcome. For *some* defendants, a single brush with the law is enough of a motivation to actually participate in substance abuse treatment, and thus address an underlying problem. Also, these prosecutions certainly establish a patter in someone's criminal history that flags them for SAFPF if they re-offend in a drug related crime.

    Now, we can discuss punishment ranges and the like all day long (and I think you and I have some common ground on them), but I'd strongly disagree with your implicit suggestion that those POCS cases not get prosecuted at all.

    Georgia ADA- DAC's caseload is all felony, so it's dealing with at least 4 ounces of marijuana. While I'd agree with you that most end users of marijuana don't fall into the same category as end users of cocaine, with the amounts DAC prosecutes it's generally not end users. 4 ounces is about 113 grams, about .75 grams to the joint = 150 joints. More typically, amounts over 4 ounces are either packaged individually for sale, or bulk wrapped for transport. My defendants who typically have less than half an ounce? Yea, I'm totally inclined to agree with you. However if they've got over 4 ounces and it's *truly* personal use, then there's a problem. If it's not, then they're selling, and there's a problem.

  4. Much of what I'll say The Assistant already said so well. But I'll chime in anyway.

    Grits: two things, really. As The Assistant points out, possession of tiny amounts of drugs, in weight, shows an addiction. And addiction causes problems. Many of them, at home, work, and secondary crime-related (theft etc.) Which is why, when I prosecute these cases I do what most ADAs here do: try and address the addiction by way of probation and treatment.
    Second, and it's the same question I always pose to those who deride the prosecution of [fill in the crime you think we shouldn't prosecute or punish too harshly]: what would you suggest? That we (a) change the law and make minor possession legal? That we don't bother prosecuting and pretend there's not a problem? I never get agood answer to this question...

    ADA Georgia: again, The Assistant speaks well. I do only deal in felony amounts, so usually those who are consciously ignoring the law and are selling the stuff. Several times I've had cases where people devote entire rooms, floors even, to grow rooms and have very elaborate irrigation and lighting systems set up. They are blatant law-breakers, whether you believe in legalizing pot or not. Why should they drive BMWs and not pay taxes while I work hard and do?
    As for addition, I do work with our drug treatment program and all the counselors there seem to believe marijuana is addictive. Perhaps not as other drugs are, but maybe in terms of a more mental/cognitive reliance on the stuff. Certainly, people are admitted into the drug program who are only pot addicts. I'm not expert enough to explain it, though, sorry!

  5. As a non attorney and shaking my head at some of the comments, if it is against the law, put them in jail on the path to recovery, do not ignore it. Full employment, I am all for it.


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