Friday, November 9, 2012

Ithaca Lawyer What are New York Graduated Sanctions?


New York probation departments and the Courts love to throw around fancy terms for pretty basic things. They use plenty of acronyms, like ATI (alternatives to incarceration) or PPI (pre-plea investigation) and everyone is expected to know what they are talking about. See you at the next PTC (pre-trial conference).

Always Ask if You Don't Know or Understand

Number rule when hiring an attorney, talking with an attorney, or dealing with the Court system is:
ask if you don't know, do not assume anything about anything, ask until you are clear about the subject and the answer. I ask about the things I don't know and there is plenty I don't know. I learn new stuff every day. It is smart to ask and dumb to pretend to know.

Fancy Words versus Plain English

Sometimes things sound better when we use colorful language.

Being Incarcerated = Going to jail or prison, being locked up!
Being placed on or in Probation = Being closely monitored and supervised for years!
Getting a CD = Having to meet certain conditions (do stuff) and stay out of trouble (no new arrests)

Striving for the Appropriate

So for today, the purpose of the Court, the Probation department, District Attorney, and the Judges is to gather all the information and facts about a person and a situation and to move towards an APPROPRIATE sentence of punishment.

What is appropriate sentence for the first time DWI offender with no accident and no injuries is NOT appropriate for the second offender or the one with an accident. Leniency for those who deserve it is at the base of this idea of fairness.

This idea or philosophy is called graduated sanctions. A gradual ratcheting up of harsher penalties. They are designed to hopefully teach, assist, train, and to rehabilitate a person from their criminal activity or behavior.

Graduated Sanctions = Gradually Increasing Punishments

Does the system fail some people? yes, but I have also seen people get the help they surely needed, sometimes whether they wanted it or not. Sometimes salvation is painful. It is generally not a fun process to say the least.

The Job of YOUR Attorney

Now the job of your attorney is to bring balance to this process via input. They must actively work to ensure that everyone gets what they need to recommend and to provide an appropriate sentence.

Your Job/employment history, education, family background, drug/alcohol evaluation, treatment, etc. can all help you or hurt you. They must be a filter and a focuser of information.

The Big HOW and WHAT

They can contact probation, they can give information about you, they can guide you to do the right things, and they can advocate to the Court and to the Prosecutor. Everything can potentially count for or against you, HOW it is presented is just as important as WHAT is presented.

Larry Newman, D.C., J.D.

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850