Veterans are invaluable members of the community who sometimes have special needs once they return from a deployment as an active duty member of the military.
Just like other citizens, sometimes veterans make mistakes and can end up being arrested and going through the court system. Luckily, the courts understand that sometimes the veteran population needs some extra help to become re-adjusted to life back at home so a Veteran’s Court was established to assist them.
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1. Veterans with Misdemeanor Charges May be Eligible
In order to be eligible for the Veterans Court, the defendant must have served as an active duty member in the military and currently be charged with a misdemeanor offense. Misdemeanors include charges such as driving under the influence, possession of a small amount of narcotics, minor theft, and other charges that are not felonies.
Those who are prosecuted for felonies, such as murder and drug trafficking, are ineligible for Veterans Court.
Individuals with multiple misdemeanors or extenuating circumstances may be allowed to enter the program. Each case is assessed individually and a determination is made by the Veterans Court regarding eligibility.
2. Veterans Court Offers a Holistic Treatment Approach
The goal of the Veterans Court is to rehabilitate veterans. The judges and volunteers who administer the Veterans Court are looking beyond the crime allegedly committed. They want to treat the accused veteran and get him or her the help they need.
Veterans Court is voluntary, so those who agree must comply with the terms of the Court in order to benefit from it. Treatment may include counseling, drug or alcohol addiction treatment classes (12 step programs), volunteering, and regular check ins with a mentor. The Court can also give additional requirements as necessary.
The motivation behind this approach is the realization by the courts that not all veterans get the emotional and mental health support that they need, and they often end up in court as a result of that lack of care. By treating the underlying issues of addiction and poor mental health the veterans may be struggling with, the court hopes to rehabilitate veterans and avoid seeing them again as defendants in the courtroom.
3. Veterans in Veteran Court are assigned Mentors
One of the foundations of the Veterans Court is the assignment of mentors. Mentors are volunteers who are veterans themselves, many of whom have gone through the Veterans Court program.
The veterans going through Veterans Court are assigned a mentor who regularly checks in with them and works as a liaison for the veteran and the court system to keep the judge updated on the progress of the veteran defendant. The mentors act as friends, guidance counselors, and overall supporters of the veterans and they are an integral part of the program.
Many of those who successfully complete Veterans Court report that they remained close with their mentors after the assignment was complete.
4. The Veterans Court offers solutions to struggling veterans
Besides the treatment aspect of the Veterans Court, there are also other benefits offered. Veterans Court provides assistance to veterans who are in need of jobs or housing by providing them with job counseling and hiring fairs. The Court also gives them access to affordable housing through the program.
These benefits alleviate financial and social burdens faced by veterans in the court system and sets them up for a stable and healthy future.
5. Veterans Court is not automatically granted
Veterans who are accused of crimes are not automatically granted a spot in the Veterans Court program. If a veteran is arrested and wishes to take advantage of the Court, he or she must request an assessment to determine eligibility. A veteran’s defense attorney can request the assessment on their behalf.
During the assessment, a member of the court will ask the veteran a series of questions to determine whether they would be a good match. While the assessment questions are not published, they include topics such as addiction, financial standing, mental health status, and willingness and desire to be rehabilitated.
If the Court believes the defendant would be successful in the program, they are assigned to a mentor and the process begins.
Can you or someone you know benefit from Veterans Court?
If you or a loved one is a veteran who has been accused of a misdemeanor, Veterans Court may be able to assist. The Law Offices of Marni J. Snyder is experienced with the Veterans Court and can assist those who would like the opportunity to participate. Contact us today at 215-515-3360 for a free consultation.