More Than Just Experts
For many clients, going through a trial is a very stressful process. During these difficult times, clients often experience depression, anxiety, and a host of other brief-psychotic mental illnesses. Ensuring that your client is alert and prepared to assist you in his or her defense is critical. The importance of client’s physical and emotional appearance before a judge and jury cannot be overstated. In many cases – it is the difference between winning and losing. ACG’s team of mental health experts understand the importance of mental fitness. While you focus on preparing your client’s best defense, you can trust that our team of experts will do our part in keeping your client prepared and focused on the legal journey ahead.
Why Should You Consider an Evaluation?
This is a very common response when we suggest to attorneys that we obtain a psychological evaluation of our client in preparation for sentencing. Of course, there may be reasons a psychological evaluation would not be beneficial. For example, if your client will be testifying against a co-defendant in exchange for a 5K1.1 cooperation departure and he exposes psychological issues that could reduce his credibility and ultimately ruin his chances for a 5K1.1. departure.
Our team has recommended getting a psychological evaluation in approximately 80% of our cases. In many cases, we are not looking for a DSM V diagnosis of a mental disorder. Rather, we are looking for verification and support for reasons behind why the client decided to violate the law after 50 years of leading a good, honest, hardworking life, being kind to others and contributing to his community.
Judges, want to know: What happened to this person? Why did he risk everything? It doesn’t make sense.
A key step in my investigation is discovering contributing factors in the client’s decision to cross the line and violate the law. There is often a fine line between an excuse and an explanation. Acknowledging wrongdoing and expressing remorse is critical. A psychological evaluation may provide a thoughtful explanation of issues that contributed to the client’s conduct while also helping the client gain insight and follow recommended counseling, treatment or medication. Gaining insight and engaging in treatment will reduce the likelihood of recidivism. It will also go a long way to convincing the court that the client is addressing the issues which led to his involvement in the offense and that his sentence should not only include punishment but also treatment and rehabilitation.
In addition to addressing the “Why” question, psychological evaluations verify that treatment is a necessary component to the sentence imposed, as an alternative to prison or to support a sentence that includes less prison and more treatment.
Our goal in obtaining a psychological evaluation is to answer these questions and arrive at a conclusion that makes sense. It will assist the judge in understanding the defendant’s conduct, convince him that the client can obtain the right kind of treatment and not recidivate, and the client can use the assistance to greatly improve the rest of his life. Psychological evaluations have proven to be very valuable tools for sentencing.