The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-29-2012, 11:19 AM
dalej42 dalej42 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Chicago
Posts: 8,860
Not consume alcohol as part of probation for non alcohol offenses?

Why do judges routinely require that people convicted of a non alcohol related misdemeanor not consume alcohol?

It seems like overkill and nanny state to me.

The two times I've run across this (no, not me personally) was a friend who got caught having sex in a car and a guy I used to work with who got busted for inflating tips on credit card charges at a restaurant.

For minor offenses like these when the punishment is usually a few months of probabation, small fine, and maybe some community service, I can't understand why someone over 21 would be restricted from consuming alcohol for a non alcohol offense. Sure, they can't run out and get a DUI the next day, but obviously any criminal offense while on probabation would be a violation anyway.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 01-29-2012, 12:24 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 25,541
I think this is better suited to IMHO than GQ.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 01-29-2012, 12:37 PM
pkbites pkbites is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Majikal Land O' Cheeze!
Posts: 7,992
The judge can set any condition he/she wants. They could say you couldn't wear a blue shirt on Tuesdays if they wanted.

It's a way to test if one is obeying the courts order. Drug/alcohol tests are easy to do. It's a little hard to determine if you wore a blue shirt on Tuesday if you come into your probation agents office on Wednesday wearing a red one.

Probation is in lieu of jail. Not obeying the conditions of it, no matter how petty, is like flipping off the judge and begging for a cell.

The order usually is for absolute sobriety (no alcohol or drugs). Intoxication can lead to trouble. And many offenders were intoxicated when the offended, or have underlying substance abuse problems. So Absolute sobriety is almost always ordered for most cases. Everyone is dumped into the same boat. Don't like it? Don't commit the offense.

Last edited by pkbites; 01-29-2012 at 12:38 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 01-29-2012, 12:42 PM
Eva Luna Eva Luna is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Chicago-ish, IL
Posts: 9,247
I think a lot of this stuff is boilerplate. For example, I have a client, a little old former Soviet grandmother, who was released from immigration detention with a monthly reporting requirement. Part of her release order involved promising not to associate with convicted felons. The woman had not been accused of, let alone convicted of, a criminal offense.

I kept visualizing a bunch of little old former Soviet ladies with walkers, hair dyed that typically improbable shade of burgundy, wearing ripped leather jackets, chain-smoking, and taunting passersby.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 01-29-2012, 01:03 PM
Blackberry Blackberry is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by pkbites View Post
The judge can set any condition he/she wants. They could say you couldn't wear a blue shirt on Tuesdays if they wanted.
That doesn't answer the question of WHY they do it, though. Yes, they CAN, obviously, but that doesn't mean they should.

Quote:
It's a way to test if one is obeying the courts order. Drug/alcohol tests are easy to do. It's a little hard to determine if you wore a blue shirt on Tuesday if you come into your probation agents office on Wednesday wearing a red one.
It's usually just as hard to test if you drank on Tuesday if it's now Wednesday. Anyone who isn't completely careless and who doesn't have such a severe drinking problem that they can't go part of a day without drinking can easily still drink and not get caught, and many of them do just that, and everyone involves knows that and doesn't really care. Rules that aren't really expected to be followed just undermine the whole idea of rules.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 01-29-2012, 01:52 PM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Posts: 6,976
It has already been mentioned that probation is in lieu of jailtime. It makes sense to me that some restrictions should be imposed on the individuals that limit some of their freedoms. People in jail cannot consume alcohol either. So a person who receives probation instead of jailtime isn't "losing" his ability to drink, he is "gaining" a bunch of other freedoms that incarceration would have taken from him anyway.
I look at it as part of the punishment, not some lame attempt at preventing repeat offenses.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 01-29-2012, 04:07 PM
Amasia Amasia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Are you sure it is the judge ordering that a person not consume alcohol? It would typically be the probation officer in places I have seen that sets those type of guidelines.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 01-29-2012, 05:03 PM
Blackberry Blackberry is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
No, it's the judge who sets the conditions.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 01-29-2012, 05:08 PM
Procrustus Procrustus is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Pacific NW.
Posts: 4,775
I've seen judges do it. It's almost standard. The thought, probably, is that many non alcohol and drug related offenses have drug and alcohol components. When it seems really out of place, I've been able to get the judge to drop it.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 01-29-2012, 05:14 PM
Amasia Amasia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Procrustus View Post
I've seen judges do it. It's almost standard. The thought, probably, is that many non alcohol and drug related offenses have drug and alcohol components. When it seems really out of place, I've been able to get the judge to drop it.
That's when I've seen judges do it as well. However, usually it's an order to participate in AODA treatment- not a direct order from the judge not to consume alcohol ect. For other offenses that are neither related or triggered by any sort of drug/alcohol problem (which is what I understood the OP to be talking about), it is still a standard term of probation, which I have never seen lifted. Then again, about 98% of offenses do have some alcohol/drug component IME.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 01-29-2012, 05:16 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Slithering on the hull
Posts: 22,283
With over 70% of convicted felons having a history of substance abuse, requiring abstinence from mood-altering substances as a condition of not going to/staying in prison is hardly surprising, and makes for good public policy.

Of course I have patients (convicted felons all) who are so incensed by the requirement that they abstain that they refuse to agree to these requirements for early release, and opt to stay in prison longer, at a cost of $35K/year to the state taxpayers.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 01-29-2012, 05:22 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: 847 mi. from Cecil
Posts: 28,738
Quote:
Originally Posted by pkbites View Post
Everyone is dumped into the same boat. Don't like it? Don't commit the offense.
Or, tell the judge you would rather do the time.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 01-29-2012, 05:29 PM
Amasia Amasia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
Or, tell the judge you would rather do the time.
In most places, even if you serve an incarcerated sentence, you will still have a portion of your sentence to serve on probation. So basically, if it's such a problem for someone to give up alcohol as opposed to being in prison, that's a major red flag that they have an alcohol problem. At some point you will have to learn to live without alcohol in order to finish your sentence. It is really annoying to be on probation and not be able to drink; however, I've worked convicted sex offenders for a number of years and the no alcohol requirement is one of the easier rules to adapt your life to.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 01-29-2012, 05:44 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: 847 mi. from Cecil
Posts: 28,738
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amasia View Post
In most places, even if you serve an incarcerated sentence, you will still have a portion of your sentence to serve on probation. So basically, if it's such a problem for someone to give up alcohol as opposed to being in prison, that's a major red flag that they have an alcohol problem. At some point you will have to learn to live without alcohol in order to finish your sentence. It is really annoying to be on probation and not be able to drink; however, I've worked convicted sex offenders for a number of years and the no alcohol requirement is one of the easier rules to adapt your life to.
I was not aware that the court could put no alcohol conditions on sex offenders, but it doesn't surprise me, as that is apparently a special class of crime which can be punished for life, even after doing the time. I am pretty sure most other convictions can be fulfilled by serving the full sentence, without any other conditions of release, though I am open to enlightenment.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 01-29-2012, 05:54 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Slithering on the hull
Posts: 22,283
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
I am pretty sure most other convictions can be fulfilled by serving the full sentence, without any other conditions of release, though I am open to enlightenment.
Often, the full sentence is something like 10 years in prison, followed by 25 years of supervision. Break the supervision rules, and you can go back to prison. And the supervision rules generally include things like "don't drink or do drugs. Or hit people without their permission."
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 01-29-2012, 05:57 PM
Blackberry Blackberry is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
It depends a lot on the jurisdiction, crime, phase of the moon, etc. but very often people leaving prison are put under some type of community supervision for a while, and they should be, because leaving prison is a huge transition, and good supervision can help ease it.

But I completely agree that sex offenders are subject to all kinds of restrictions that would never be tolerated for any other group. The alcohol thing isn't one of them though.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 01-29-2012, 05:57 PM
Amasia Amasia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
I was not aware that the court could put no alcohol conditions on sex offenders, but it doesn't surprise me, as that is apparently a special class of crime which can be punished for life, even after doing the time. I am pretty sure most other convictions can be fulfilled by serving the full sentence, without any other conditions of release, though I am open to enlightenment.
To clarify, I meant that the no alcohol provision is during probation. I would actually be interested to know if there are cases where such a provision could be applied after probation (and sex offenders do seem the most likely instance where it would be). Where I am, your full sentence includes either a term of probation, or a term of incarceration plus a term of probation. There is no direct release without probation. So those are the circumstances in which an offender would need to abide by a no-alcohol provision.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 01-30-2012, 12:50 PM
pkbites pkbites is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Majikal Land O' Cheeze!
Posts: 7,992
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
I am pretty sure most other convictions can be fulfilled by serving the full sentence, without any other conditions of release, though I am open to enlightenment.
This is incorrect. In my 3 decades of working in the system almost all jail/prison time sentences are followed with some form of extended supervision afterwards.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 01-30-2012, 01:37 PM
doreen doreen is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Woodhaven,Queens, NY
Posts: 4,045
In my experience, it's not at all uncommon for someone convicted of a non-drug or alcohol related offense to blame their crime on drug or alcohol use. For example, " I beat up my girlfriend because I was high" or " I stole that money to buy booze". I have no idea whether it was true or not-when they were being sent to a rehab program they frequently claimed they made it up hoping to avoid incarceration. But if I'm the judge ( or probation officer, parole officer etc) and someone claims that their apparently non-alcohol related crime is in fact due to alcohol use, I'm going to require that they don't use alcohol.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 01-30-2012, 01:45 PM
doreen doreen is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Woodhaven,Queens, NY
Posts: 4,045
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
I was not aware that the court could put no alcohol conditions on sex offenders, but it doesn't surprise me, as that is apparently a special class of crime which can be punished for life, even after doing the time. I am pretty sure most other convictions can be fulfilled by serving the full sentence, without any other conditions of release, though I am open to enlightenment.
Some can, some can't . Depends on the state and the sentence structure. And there are always life sentences - in my state, you theoretically can avoid supervised release by staying in prison until you die, or you can get out and be supervised for until you die.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 01-30-2012, 01:52 PM
guizot guizot is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: An East Hollywood dingbat
Posts: 6,306
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackberry View Post
No, it's the judge who sets the conditions.
It can be either (at least in L.A. County), though the PO will do it more as a result of some list that he or she uses from the initial interview. Those conditions can also be contested before the judge, if they weren't part of the initial plea deal.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 01-30-2012, 02:52 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: 847 mi. from Cecil
Posts: 28,738
Quote:
Originally Posted by pkbites View Post
This is incorrect. In my 3 decades of working in the system almost all jail/prison time sentences are followed with some form of extended supervision afterwards.
If the convicted has served the entire term of his sentence, how much additional time could they be returned to jail for, if they violate supervision? If the judge sentences me to 10 years, and I serve 10 years, who determines the extra-judicial punishment for violating supervision?
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 01-30-2012, 03:13 PM
bup bup is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackberry View Post
It's usually just as hard to test if you drank on Tuesday if it's now Wednesday.
Is that correct?

I thought a urine test could detect previous alcohol consumption for a few days.

Anyway, it's a catch-22. If giving up alcohol as a term of probation is a huge imposition, then the person in question probably has a substance abuse problem. If it's just a minor hassle, along the lines of "and you can't eat pizza while you're on probation," then I'd think one would just sigh, mumble "whatever," and do it.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 01-30-2012, 03:57 PM
zamboniracer zamboniracer is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Above the Uecker seats.
Posts: 4,721
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bear_Nenno View Post
It has already been mentioned that probation is in lieu of jailtime. It makes sense to me that some restrictions should be imposed on the individuals that limit some of their freedoms. People in jail cannot consume alcohol either. So a person who receives probation instead of jailtime isn't "losing" his ability to drink, he is "gaining" a bunch of other freedoms that incarceration would have taken from him anyway.
I look at it as part of the punishment, not some lame attempt at preventing repeat offenses.
So the restrictions are kind of like those in the old movie, "Support Your Local Sheriff", where the sheriff played by Jame Garner had a jail cell that hadn't had the bars installed yet, but they were going to use the cell just as if it had bars anyway.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 01-30-2012, 04:37 PM
doreen doreen is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Woodhaven,Queens, NY
Posts: 4,045
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
If the convicted has served the entire term of his sentence, how much additional time could they be returned to jail for, if they violate supervision? If the judge sentences me to 10 years, and I serve 10 years, who determines the extra-judicial punishment for violating supervision?
That assumes you can be sentenced to 10 years. You can't in some states - for example in New York a determinate sentence automatically includes a period of post-release supervision. So you don't get sentenced to 10 years. You get sentenced to 7 years incarceration and 3 years of post-release supervision or 10 years incarceration and 3 years post-release supervision.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 01-30-2012, 04:43 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Slithering on the hull
Posts: 22,283
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
If the convicted has served the entire term of his sentence, how much additional time could they be returned to jail for, if they violate supervision? If the judge sentences me to 10 years, and I serve 10 years, who determines the extra-judicial punishment for violating supervision?
If you're still on supervision, then you haven't served the entire term of your sentence.

If the convict is "off paper", that means they've served not only their required minimum incarceration time, but also their supervision time afterwards too. They no longer have a parole officer acting as the agent of the state/judiciary supervising their behavior. Then they'll have to commit a new crime to end up back in prison.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 01-30-2012, 10:57 PM
Blackberry Blackberry is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by bup View Post
Is that correct?

I thought a urine test could detect previous alcohol consumption for a few days.
Nope, only while you're currently intoxicated. I think weed is the only commonly tested for substance that stays in your body for a period of days or weeks. Which is unfortunate because it's probably the least harmful one too.

Quote:
Anyway, it's a catch-22. If giving up alcohol as a term of probation is a huge imposition, then the person in question probably has a substance abuse problem. If it's just a minor hassle, along the lines of "and you can't eat pizza while you're on probation," then I'd think one would just sigh, mumble "whatever," and do it.
Unless you're under some very strict supervision where the PO might show up any time or call and demand you come right in, or if you're living in a halfway house or something, I think most people without drinking problems just drink anyway sometimes (if they followed rules they wouldn't be on probation to begin with). If you're just drinking in moderation at a safe place and not doing anything crazy, it's not really risky. Even if you did get caught somehow you wouldn't necessarily go to jail.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 01-31-2012, 07:08 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 18,729
Quote:
Originally Posted by bup View Post
I thought a urine test could detect previous alcohol consumption for a few days.
It depends somewhat on the test, but if I recall correctly there are tests that can detect alcohol consumption for something like 48-72 hours after ingestion.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 01-31-2012, 07:09 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 18,729
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackberry View Post
Nope, only while you're currently intoxicated. I think weed is the only commonly tested for substance that stays in your body for a period of days or weeks. Which is unfortunate because it's probably the least harmful one too.
Incorrect on the alcohol. There are tests that pick it up after you sober up, based on metabolites of alcohol and not alcohol itself.

Marijuana is detectable for up to three weeks.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 01-31-2012, 07:20 AM
Blackberry Blackberry is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Incorrect on the alcohol. There are tests that pick it up after you sober up, based on metabolites of alcohol and not alcohol itself.
I didn't know that. But is that test commonly done? I've known quite a few people on probation, and interned at a community supervision office, and never knew that to be the case.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 01-31-2012, 10:53 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 18,729
Last time I worked at a place where we did piss tests for drugs was back in the mid 1990's so the situation may have changed. Back then we had several standard test panels, and if I recall correctly two of the three had "alcohol" as one of the testable drugs, about $25 a test. We had mostly Federal probation cases, and they all got one of the tests that looked for alcohol. So... possibly more common in some jurisdictions than others.

Shortly before I left quicker, but more specific tests were arriving on the market. Our standard panels would find 15-20 substances, the newer tests far fewer. They were also cheaper, if less accurate. If those newer tests are now the common ones (possibly due to cost as well as quickness of results) then maybe routine testing for alcohol has dropped out of favor.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 01-31-2012, 11:59 AM
guizot guizot is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: An East Hollywood dingbat
Posts: 6,306
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackberry View Post
But is that test commonly done?
It's not as common simply because it's more expensive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
. . .two of the three had "alcohol" as one of the testable drugs, about $25 a test. . . If those newer tests are now the common ones (possibly due to cost as well as quickness of results) then maybe routine testing for alcohol has dropped out of favor.
Urine dip panels for the five or six most common drugs are pretty cheap, and they can be used for recent alcohol use, too, but if you want to test for alcohol more than about 36 hours before (with a solid result), it can be detected, but I'm pretty sure it has to go to a lab, so it just costs a lot more.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:11 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.