Mandate (criminal law)

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A criminal court may impose a "mandate" as part of a legal process on a person accused of a crime consisting of an obligation to engage in certain conditions or activities in exchange for suspension or reduction in penalty; such as, conditions of probation, conditional discharges, or other conditional sentences. For example, a defendant convicted of driving while intoxicated or drug possession may be mandated to engage in alcoholism or substance abuse rehabilitation. The term is paradoxical because acceptance of the "mandate" is, in fact, a voluntary act by the defendant, who also has the option of serving what would most generally (though the relative weight is a matter determined by the individual's perspective and readiness to change) be viewed as a harsher alternative, such as incarceration. In this sense, the mandate is in fact not truly mandatory, but is instead a type of legal fiction wherein the court assumes an illusion of power which, in actuality, is constrained by the defendant's free will.

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