By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Most people vastly over-estimate their jail possibilities. I spend a good deal of time explaining why things are nearly as bad they may seem.
Our minds tend to link together what I call “the chain of terribles.” That is we take one terrible result, and infer another logical awful result, and then another and another and another. But this is almost never realistic.
Let me give you an example — at the time I write this blog, the Coronavirus is exploding across the world. The NBA just suspended their regular season. Part of my mind wants to suggest the world economy will crash (the dow is down 20% from a month ago), my law practice will go down the tubes with the economy, there will be widespread disease and then famine, the NBA will never play again, and the survivors of the virus will have to barricade themselves from zombies in makeshift houses.
That is the chain of terribles. But I’m guessing if you read this even 6 months from now, you’ll see how ridiculous my conclusions were.
The same thing happens when people consider jail. They’ve typically already been arrested and have bonded out — and they want to know “will it happen again?” A perfectly understandable and valid question. Those fears are often fueled by lawyers and their webpages trying to scare you into hiring them.
Jail exposure is obviously on a case-by-case basis which includes tons of variables such as the nature of the charge, mitigating factors, what county is prosecuting the charge, criminal history, the specific prosecutor, judge, etcetera, etcetera, etc…
Understand a handful of factors which, in general, reduce inmate population.
- Running a jail is money-losing proposition. It is a hotel where no one pays. Most counties don’t want to feed you and house you if they don’t have to.
- Most judges and prosectors believe in rehabilitation. Very few will stop someone from getting help they need to manage substance issues which frequently contribute.
- There is a much better understanding of anxiety, depression, and other maladies which can contribute to someone’s predicament.
- Finally — it’s your lawyers job to effectively tell your story — and everyone typically has a good one.
Bottom line: If you’re like everyone else – then you’ve probably exaggerated your own jail chances.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. He is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Criminal law. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.