I was recently asked by my client, who was facing a substantial penalty for her third DUI in five years, what she could do to avoid jail. She understood that Ventura County was particularly aggressive in prosecuting DUI cases, so she was afraid that she would be forced to spend the next 6 months or more in custody for this new case. In addition, she would be facing the accompanying violations of probation that had already been filed. Her fears were reasonable since an individual who enters a plea or is found guilty for this type of offense can incur substantial penalties that permanently alter a person's life.
My response was to explain the case of "People v. Darnell."
This is one of the most underutilized cases despite its tremendous benefit to both the individual facing charges and the society they have put at risk with their addiction. A 1990 case, People v. Darnell, allows an individual facing serious time in custody for an alcohol related offense to be ordered (as a condition of their bail or release pending the outcome of the litigation) into an alcohol rehabilitation program. This case specifically allows a court to give credit on a day for a day basis against the eventual time ordered served at the conclusion of the case. In a situation where the client would normally be remanded for 90 days into the Ventura County jail, that client may spend the 90 days in an alcohol treatment program and get credit against his or her sentence for the time the program took if he or she is successful in completing it.
The alcohol treatment program must qualify under Penal Code section 2900.5 meaning that it must be custodial in nature. This generally means an intensive live-in treatment program, but this generally produces the best results for the individuals willing to commit to them anyway. Also of note, many times these programs are covered by an individual's health insurance which helps with the affordability.
In a day and age where the prisons are vastly overcrowded and violent offenders are being shipped into local institutions to serve their time with non-violent offenders, this case allows an individual to confront their issues in a safe environment and complete their sentence better equipped to deal with their addictions. The end result being that they are significantly safer to place back into society and less likely to reoffend.
At the Law Offices of Jarrod M. Wilfert, we treat each and every case as a unique challenge and make it our goal to protect our client's futures. We live in a time, where courts are inundated and assign formulaic "one-size fits all" type penalties when we know it does not. There are options to be considered throughout the case, including when it becomes necessary to consider the possibility of custody time. We view it as our responsibility to help secure the best alternative that fits our client's needs. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call our office for a FREE CONSULTATION with an experienced Ventura County criminal defense attorney at 805-324-6777.