Health Magazine

Addiction in the Courtroom [Guest Post]

By Dirkh @dirk57

Addiction in the Courtroom [Guest Post]
Forensic psychology and the paradox of addiction.
The following article was written by Allison Gamble, who blogs at www.forensicpsychology.net.
The paradox of addiction presents a legal conundrum when it comes to determining the extent of a defendant’s guilt in criminal court. Although addiction is generally considered a mental health condition, it does not lie within the parameters that typically define mental illness in the courts. Though defense lawyers may present addiction as a mitigating factor--in some cases influencing the jury to vote for a lesser conviction--addiction does not excuse the defendant from being legally responsible for the crime.
Forensic psychology is a field that weaves together psychology and the criminal justice system. Oftentimes these insights prove useful for determining legal guilt or innocence. For example, if a defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity, it is likely due to the work of a forensic psychologist. However, when it comes to crimes involving addictive behavior, forensic psychology is faced with paradoxical truths regarding addiction, and the relationship between addiction and responsibility for one’s actions.
A commonly held view of addiction is that it is a disease marked by lack of control. An alcoholic cannot stop himself from drinking. Likewise, a drug addict will do things no one in their right mind would ever do just to get the next high. All of these people may thoroughly regret their behavior when the high wears off, but that does not stop them from doing it again. Indeed, they often cannot stop without help.
Paradoxically, however, addiction is all about choice. A crucial part of treatment for addiction requires the addict to take full responsibility for his or her behavior. Addicts must recognize that their addictive behavior is, on some level, a choice, and that they can choose differently. It is not clear to what extent biology plays a role in starting an addiction. Social and emotional factors also play parts, both in forming an addiction and in continuing it.
This creates a huge gray area when an addict commits a crime related to his or her addiction. Did the person have control over their behavior? Is the addiction itself a choice, or something the addict can’t help any more than they could help catching the flu? Especially in cases where the addiction itself is a crime, such as compulsive shoplifting or narcotic use, these questions are crucial in determining the defendant’s responsibility for the crime and an appropriate sentence. Generally if these questions can be answered at all, the answer is often both yes and no, and the legal system often reflects this dichotomy: People convicted of addiction-related crimes may be ordered into treatment as part of their sentences. In some cases, especially for crimes not involving violence or repeat offenses, criminal charges are dropped if the defendant agrees to treatment. However, a defendant being treated for addiction may also be sentenced to jail time, probation, fines, community service, and/or restitution, especially if the crime involved violence or property damage. Since addiction is both under and outside of the addict’s control, someone who commits an addiction-related crime should be both held responsible and offered treatment.
Graphics Credit: http://diaryofasmartchick.com/


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Dying Games – Steve Robinson

    Dying Games Steve Robinson

    Crime Fiction5*s The genealogical expert Jefferson Tayte is back! I love this series which has taken me back to historical eras I know little about while tellin... Read more

    The 29 April 2017 by   Cleopatralovesbooks
    BOOKS, CULTURE
  • Crushed a Flower with a Footstep

    (Photograph by Abhay Tiwari) Please, talk to me about who you were before the walls were painted blue; Tell me the bruises, the aches, and time just added... Read more

    The 29 April 2017 by   Shantam Sahai
    DIARIES, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Make My Day . . .

    Make

    Read more

    The 29 April 2017 by   Vickilane
    CREATIVITY, PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Lifestyle: Productive Procrastination

    Lifestyle: Productive Procrastination

    I’ve moaned about it enough, so you’ll all know by know that despite having graduated last summer I’m still studying. I’ve chosen a career path which pretty muc... Read more

    The 29 April 2017 by   Ninegrandstudent
    FASHION, FOOD & DRINK, LIFESTYLE
  • Why I’m Not At the MidAmerica Region Annual Assembly

    I love Chicago. I have family there that I'm normally always looking for a way to be with. And I have friends that I don't see nearly enough. So when I first... Read more

    The 29 April 2017 by   Eastofmidnight
    POLITICS, SOCIETY
  • Lemon Stuffed French Toast

    Lemon Stuffed French Toast

    Whenever I have stale bread I want to make one of two things . . . either I want to make a bread pudding, or I want to make French Toast. Today the French... Read more

    The 29 April 2017 by   Mariealicerayner
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • Safety First And Workout Related Injuries Last

    Safety First Workout Related Injuries Last

    (Image Credit) Like most things in life, exercise can be a dangerous game. It’s very easy to injure yourself while you’re exercising; if you fail to take the... Read more

    The 29 April 2017 by   Peppertan
    FAMILY, HOME