Training and Information for Attorneys


Information Packet

The following links will create a brief informational packet of documents for you to print or download and give to an attorney or related legal services provider who has encountered or may encounter a child or adult with an FASD. 


FASD-Informed Certificate

Spend 2 hours reading and viewing the resources on this page. Then take a short quiz and obtain your certificate. Coming soon!!



  • Although common among people in trouble with the law, FASD is unknown to most attorneys
  • Lack of training for attorneys in FASD masks real problems in attorney-client communication
  • Social and political attitudes toward alcohol interfere with recognition of the condition as serious or real
  • Our system of justice – which is heavy on punishment – is not effective with people with FASD who are unable to learn from mistakes
  • People with FASD are suggestible and make very poor informants as witnesses or defendants
  • Most people with FASD are undiagnosed and do not have access to their medical records
  • People with FASD often plead guilty just to please their attorney or to make an unpleasant situation go away
  • People with FASD may have difficulty understanding abstract legal concepts like “guilt” or “innocence” or “rights” but they may be able to use the words correctly
  • People with FASD may have few family members or friends to support them through the legal process
  • People with FASD may appear to lack remorse due to lack of cause and effect thinking
  • People with FASD may appear uncooperative or uncaring and may not be able to effectively assist their attorney with their defense
  • People with FASD often have repeated crimes which can look like a career criminal but are due to their inability to understand the connection between their action and the crime they were charged with so they are unable to avoid repeating the same mistakes



How you can screen for FASD in your clients

American Bar Association Resolution on FASD

FASD – Implications for Juvenile and Family Court Judges

Book: Representing People with Mental Disabilities: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers

Sentencing Neurocognitive Offenders in Canada

FASD As a Mitigating Factor is Now Law in Alaska

FASD and the Juvenile Justice System: A Need for Increased Awareness


Websites with Resources on FASD and the Criminal Justice System:


PDFs and Articles

The Criminal Defense Attorney’s Fiduciary Duty to Clients with Mental Disabilities

Methods to Improve the Skill Level of Defense Counsel Representing Clients Impacted by Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health Issues – Michael L. Perlin, Esq.

FASD Guidebook for Police Officers (36 page manual available for download – contains excellent suggestions for accommodating clients with FASD (see pages 19-22)

Representing Clients with Mental Health and/or Cognitive Impairments in Treatment Courts – Michael L. Perlin, Esq

ABA “PREP” program – Clients with Diminished Capacity

For caregivers: FASD: You and Your Child’s Lawyer – David Boulding

Mistakes I have made with FAS Clients – David Boulding

FASD and the Role of Family Court Judges – Diane Malbin

Individuals with FASD and the Courts – What Social Workers Need to Know

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Orchids is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Orchids is the FASD United Affiliate in Wisconsin.

This site is provided to families and professionals as an informative site on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). It is not intended to replace professional medical, psychological, behavioral, legal, nutritional or educational counsel. Reference to any specific agency does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Orchids FASD Services.
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