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Criminal defendants facing pretrial detention–whether due to bail revocation, a probation violation, or dangerousness–often try to avoid jail by falsely claiming to have a severe drug addiction which requires immediate treatment.

By doing this, they hope the judge will send them to an inpatient substance-abuse program (a Section 35 commitment) rather than the county jail.

Most defense attorneys will decline to assist their client with the scam.

If, however, the request for commitment seems genuine, it’s my opinion that the defendant’s probation officer or a member of the defendant’s family should apply for commitment.

This is for two reasons.

First, the applicable statute (M.G.L. c. 123, Section 35) expressly permits “court officials” such a probation officers and/or “spouses” and “blood relatives” to apply for the defendant’s commitment.

(For more, see my post: Who Can Apply to Have Someone Committed for Drug or Alcohol Addiction?)

Second, the commitment application requires firsthand knowledge of the defendant’s drug habits. Most lawyers don’t possess such knowledge. However, there’s a far greater chance that the defendant’s probation officer or his family know his history of drug abuse.