Pre-pleading & Pre-sentence Memoranda
These reports provide the court with detailed, substantiated and documented psychosocial information that illustrates all of the facets of the client’s life such as social, academic/employment, health/mental health, substance abuse, including psychological evaluations and overall recommendations.
The memoranda could also include:
· A detailed and clear depiction of the contributing psychosocial mitigating factors, or how and why an individual is involved in the court system. Also included are the legal mitigating factors that lessen or explain culpability.
· Corroborating documentation such as school records, health/mental health records, financial, employment and personal life history information
· Research that illustrates the individual’s family structure, community overview, cultural and developmental stages
· Letters of support from family members or employers which may emphasize community ties and important factors that deem a need for a lenient sentence
· Other key information that can lead to a lenient disposition in a case that may not be suitable for trial or assist in negotiating a non-jail or alternative incarceration sentencing
In Federal cases, we initiate service at the time of the plea, so we can assist the client in maneuvering thorough the sentencing phase of their case. The Consulting Project has consulted on cases pertaining to drug trafficking, human trafficking, illegal gun sales, kidnapping, arson, homicide, cybercrimes, exploitation of children, child pornography, bankruptcy fraud, immigration violations, and terrorism/counterintelligence. We specialize in presenting specific cultural, economic and mental health mitigating factors. A special focus is placed on the multiple components that promote a just and lenient sentence. Our lead mitigation specialist is also an expert in gang culture. He has traveled to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America to research specific factors.
Death Penalty Mitigation
Mitigating factors or mitigating evidence, is information that the defense can present in the sentencing phase of a capital trial to provide reasons why the defendant should not receive a death sentence. This evidence, which can include mental problems, remorse, youth, childhood abuse or neglect, a minor role in the homicide, or the absence of a prior criminal record, may reduce the culpability of the defendant or may provide other reasons for preferring a life sentence to death. The Supreme Court has ruled that in deciding between the death penalty and life in prison, the jury may consider any mitigating evidence a juror finds relevant. The jury is instructed to weigh the mitigating factors presented by the defense against the aggravating factors presented by the prosecution.
As mitigation has become recognized as a critical part of a capital trial, defense attorneys have turned to mitigation specialists to investigate defendants’ backgrounds. Mitigation specialists examine defendants’ family history, medical history, educational and employment background, and any other element of an individual’s life that may convince the jury to return a sentence other than death. With this information, they assist defense counsel in presenting a coherent case for mitigation. The role of the mitigation specialist is so central to a client’s defense that the American Bar Association includes them in their guidelines on the defense in death penalty cases: “The defense team should consist of no fewer than two attorneys…an investigator, and a mitigation specialist.”
Assigned Counsel Plan Cases (County Law 18B)
In accordance with Article 18-b of the County Law, also known as the Assigned Counsel Plan (ACP), the plan provides assistance and counsel to persons charged with a crime who are entitled to counsel and are financially unable to obtain counsel. Through ACP, the Consulting Project provides forensic social work services and other expert services necessary for an adequate defense. The Consulting Project has provided services to attorneys in all five boroughs of New York City (Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island) as well as Nassau and Suffolk County's Assigned Counsel Plans.
DWI Assessments & Monitoring
The Consulting Project specializes in felony-designated DWI's that include Leandra Law cases and vehicular manslaughter cases. This service allows a forensic social worker, who is an experienced clinical professional with many years of DWI treatment and knowledge, to assess an individual who has incurred a substantial record of arrests related to DWI. We propose detailed treatment plans to the Court that includes an intensive program, monitoring via alcohol testing and/or with a SCRAM device (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) with RMOMS (Rocky Mountain Offender Management Systems). We have a 80 percent success rate in negotiating a lenient sentence, specifically when used in conjunction with a Pre-pleading memorandum and specific monitoring.
Youthful Offender Adjudication
This is one of our most used services, due to the our vast experience and success rate with adolescents. Since 2009, our office has secured a large number of Y.O. adjudications for violent felonies in various counties. We pioneered a specific process of evaluations, treatment plans and monitoring to secure the highest level of success. We offer clinical evaluations of youth to determine the clinical causes of delinquent and criminal behavior, resulting in felony arrests. We utilize various techniques including basic curfews, toxicology monitoring and GPS anklet to support potential success and maintain the safety of the community. We also arrange home visits to evaluate the home and community with a view towards support services.
Assessments, Evaluations & Referrals
Through clinical evaluation and various informal and formal assessments, our experts can aid in the multi-disciplinary process of gathering information to understand an individual’s behavior, the impact on their current legal situation, define the mitigating factors, prepare and provide referrals for treatment, monitoring, home visits, and program placement.
The assessment/evaluation includes the gathering of social and biographical information, interviews, direct observations, home visits and may include data from specific psychological tests. The process may involve medical professionals, psychologists/psychiatrists, occupational therapists and social workers. For example, competency evaluations to determine competency to stand trial may be needed. Or psychological evaluations for child custody conflicts may be appointed to explore the personalities and behaviors of a child’s parents, and to render an opinion about circumstances necessary to provide for a child’s best interests. All of our recommendations are clinically based and also place a strong focus on preventing recidivism.
An attorney who is knowledgeable of not only the law, but also of non-legal remedies is necessary, along with a forensic social worker who has experience as a defense advocate and knowledge of the mental health community and the services it offers. Together, the two can create solutions to present to the court that allows for sentencing alternatives. For many years the staff at the Consulting Project has provided informational meetings and training to attorneys, judges and supervising agencies. We have recently formalized this training and are now teaching CLE courses through various legal associations.