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What’s a Diversion Court?

What’s a Diversion Court?

Veterans Court Diversion Programs are a diversion program for veterans who are currently facing prosecution for one or more criminal cases. The program offers offenders a treatment option that is judicially supervised. It is designed to divert veterans out of the traditional criminal justice process and into appropriate rehabilitative alternatives. Once the veteran has been screened, assessed, and approved for participation in the program, he/she will promptly begin a treatment regimen that is specific to his/her needs.

MISSION

The mission of such systems is to successfully habilitate the veteran by diverting them from the traditional criminal justice system and providing them with the tools they need to lead a productive and law-abiding lifestyle while improving mental health recovery and successful re-entry into the community.

GOALS

The mission of such systems is to successfully habilitate the veteran by diverting them from the traditional criminal justice system and providing them with the tools they need to lead a productive and law-abiding lifestyle while improving mental health recovery and successful re-entry into the community.

CRITERIA FOR PARTICIPATION (Generalized)

  • Veteran or current member of the United States Armed Forces, including a member of the Reserves, National Guard, or State Guard.
  • Clinical diagnosis of a brain injury, mental illness, or mental disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder, that resulted from the veterans’ military service in a combat zone or other similar hazardous duty area; and materially affected the veterans’ criminal conduct at issue in the case.

    Conditions of the Veterans Court Diversion Program (Generalized):

    • Must admit to the commission of the offense, and agree that this admission may be used against the defendant in court as provided by law.
    • Must not commit a criminal offense for the duration of the program.
    • Must not consume alcohol or non-prescribed controlled substances.
    • Must submit to random chemical testing.
    • Must cooperate with treatment and/or counseling as recommended.
    • Must take all psychiatric medications as prescribed.
    • Must keep all appointments and attend all compliance hearings as scheduled.
    • Must agree to report to a case manager as directed.
    • Must keep the program staff informed of any changes in address, telephone number, and employer.
    • Must consent to the release of protected information as permitted under Texas law.
    • Must have no contact with any person of disreputable or harmful character.
    • Must plead guilty to enter program. With completion of the program the charges are dismissed and eligible for expunction.
    • Must acknowledge that failure to comply with any term of this agreement will cause the State to withdraw from this agreement and proceed with prosecution of this offense.
    • Must acknowledge that the successful completion of the diversion agreement shall cause the State of Texas to dismiss the charges in this matter.
    • Must attend bi-monthly compliance hearings held in open court as directed.
    • Must agree to follow any/all directives given by the case manager in accordance with their individual treatment plan.

      ACCESS TO THE PROGRAM

      Referrals are accepted from a variety of sources, including law enforcement, jail staff, judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, mental health professionals, and family or friends.

      Intake Process

      • Once a referral is received, the DA’s office reviews it to ensure the minimum criteria are met.
      • Following DA review, the veterans are given a date and time to complete screening forms.
      • The veterans are scheduled for a face-to-face interview with the program manager.
      • A formal comprehensive assessment is completed by the program manager and submitted to the DA’s office for final approval/denial.
      • The veterans’ attorney and court of origin are notified of their status after completion of the screening process and again at final disposition.

        ELEMENTS OF THE PROGRAM

        Participants will develop an individualized treatment plan.

        A phase system is utilized to measure participant progress.

        Services for education, counseling, and other needs are provided by outside agencies.

        Participants are referred to these agencies throughout the program as needed.

        Supervision Monitoring – A case manager will monitor each participant placed in the program. The case manager will work closely with the program manager and service providers.

        Compliance Hearing – All participants are required to attend bi-monthly compliance hearings. During the hearing, the progress of each participant is reviewed in open court. Both incentives and sanctions are used as methods of motivation.

        Disposition of Court Case – The Veterans Court Diversion Program is a 6-to-24 month program. The period directly relates to the participant’s needs and/or compliance. Upon successful completion of the program, the case(s) are dismissed. In the event the agreement is terminated, the case(s) are remanded to the court of origin for continued prosecution.

Veterans Diversion Program

Veterans Diversion Program

The Veterans Diversion program provides veterans charged with a crime a second chance. Rather than be punished with mandatory jail time and other penalties, the vet participates in the program, and the charges against him or her are dropped once the program is completed.

Veterans Diversion Program Eligibility

Our Orange County lawyers can offer you guidance throughout the Veterans Diversion program. First, it must be determined if you are eligible to participate. To qualify, the offense cannot be:

  • A forcible felony
  • A weapons offense
  • A first-degree felony
  • A criminal traffic offense, but the veteran can still qualify for DUI diversion
  • Child abuse
  • A sex offenseIf you are eligible for Veterans Diversion, you will be required to:
    • Complete community service hours
    • Pay criminal restitution, if it applies in your case
    • Meet with corrections officer on a monthly basis
    • Complete recommended programsAdditionally, if it is a domestic violence offense, the vet must complete an approved batterer’s intervention program.When you have successfully completed Veterans Diversion, the charges against you will be dismissed, and you can have the entire case expunged from your record if you are otherwise eligible.

      The Veterans Diversion program recognizes that vets often have many problems when they come home from war. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), trouble adjusting to “normal” life — these can all play a role in their behavior.

Veterans Treatment Court

Veterans Treatment Court

Veterans Treatment Court is a nationally recognized program designed to provide essential substance abuse treatment services, mental health services, or both, to current and former military service members who have been arrested for a criminal offense.

One goal of the program is to divert veterans from incarceration and into treatment when there is a relationship between the offense or diagnosis and the veteran’s military service.

The court-supervised, comprehensive treatment program utilizes a collaborative approach includes drug and alcohol testing, regular court appearances, and educational opportunities intended to provide the participants with the skills necessary to maintain a clean and sober lifestyle and reconnect with their families and community.

By coordinating with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), Veterans Treatment Court provides eligible veterans the opportunity to receive specialized substance abuse and mental health treatment services, one-on-one veteran peer mentor support, and assistance in gaining access to veteran health care and benefits from the VA.

Services are provided through outpatient services. However, residential (in-patient) services also are available to those participants who need a higher level of treatment.

What’s a Veterans Diversion Court?

The very best part of this program ….

Disposition of Court Case – The Veterans Court Diversion Program is a 6-to-24 month program. The period directly relates to the participant’s needs and/or compliance. Upon successful completion of the program, the case(s) are dismissed.

What’s a Diversion Court?

Veterans Court Diversion Programs are a diversion program for veterans who are currently facing prosecution for one or more criminal cases. The program offers offenders a treatment option that is judicially supervised. It is designed to divert veterans out of the traditional criminal justice process and into appropriate rehabilitative alternatives. Once the veteran has been screened, assessed, and approved for participation in the program, he/she will promptly begin a treatment regimen that is specific to his/her needs.

MISSION

The mission of such systems is to successfully habilitate the veteran by diverting them from the traditional criminal justice system and providing them with the tools they need to lead a productive and law-abiding lifestyle while improving mental health recovery and successful re-entry into the community.

GOALS

CRITERIA FOR PARTICIPATION (Generalized)

  • Veteran or current member of the United States Armed Forces, including a member of the Reserves, National Guard, or State Guard.
  • Clinical diagnosis of a brain injury, mental illness, or mental disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder, that resulted from the veterans’ military service in a combat zone or other similar hazardous duty area; and materially affected the veterans’ criminal conduct at issue in the case.

    Conditions of the Veterans Court Diversion Program (Generalized):

    • Must admit to the commission of the offense, and agree that this admission may be used against the defendant in court as provided by law.
    • Must not commit a criminal offense for the duration of the program.
    • Must not consume alcohol or non-prescribed controlled substances.
    • Must submit to random chemical testing.
    • Must cooperate with treatment and/or counseling as recommended.
    • Must take all psychiatric medications as prescribed.
    • Must keep all appointments and attend all compliance hearings as scheduled.
    • Must agree to report to a case manager as directed.
    • Must keep the program staff informed of any changes in address, telephone number, and employer.
    • Must consent to the release of protected information as permitted under Texas law.
    • Must have no contact with any person of disreputable or harmful character.
    • Must plead guilty to enter program. With completion of the program the charges are dismissed and eligible for expunction.
    • Must acknowledge that failure to comply with any term of this agreement will cause the State to withdraw from this agreement and proceed with prosecution of this offense.
    • Must acknowledge that the successful completion of the diversion agreement shall cause the State of Texas to dismiss the charges in this matter.
    • Must attend bi-monthly compliance hearings held in open court as directed.
    • Must agree to follow any/all directives given by the case manager in accordance with their individual treatment plan.

      ACCESS TO THE PROGRAM

      Referrals are accepted from a variety of sources, including law enforcement, jail staff, judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, mental health professionals, and family or friends.

      Intake Process

      • Once a referral is received, the DA’s office reviews it to ensure the minimum criteria are met.
      • Following DA review, the veterans are given a date and time to complete screening forms.
      • The veterans are scheduled for a face-to-face interview with the program manager.
      • A formal comprehensive assessment is completed by the program manager and submitted to the DA’s office for final approval/denial.
      • The veterans’ attorney and court of origin are notified of their status after completion of the screening process and again at final disposition.

        ELEMENTS OF THE PROGRAM

        Participants will develop an individualized treatment plan.

        A phase system is utilized to measure participant progress.

        Services for education, counseling, and other needs are provided by outside agencies.

        Participants are referred to these agencies throughout the program as needed.

        Supervision Monitoring – A case manager will monitor each participant placed in the program. The case manager will work closely with the program manager and service providers.

        Compliance Hearing – All participants are required to attend bi-monthly compliance hearings. During the hearing, the progress of each participant is reviewed in open court. Both incentives and sanctions are used as methods of motivation.

        Disposition of Court Case – The Veterans Court Diversion Program is a 6-to-24 month program. The period directly relates to the participant’s needs and/or compliance. Upon successful completion of the program, the case(s) are dismissed. In the event the agreement is terminated, the case(s) are remanded to the court of origin for continued prosecution.

        Disposition of Court Case – The Veterans Court Diversion Program is a 6-to-24 month program. The period directly relates to the participant’s needs and/or compliance. Upon successful completion of the program, the case(s) are dismissed. In the event the agreement is terminated, the case(s) are remanded to the court of origin for continued prosecution.

        Disposition of Court Case – The Veterans Court Diversion Program is a 6-to-24 month program. The period directly relates to the participant’s needs and/or compliance. Upon successful completion of the program, the case(s) are dismissed. In the event the agreement is terminated, the case(s) are remanded to the court of origin for continued prosecution.

Veterans Courts

Veterans Courts

Veterans courts are designed to assist justice-involved defendants with the complex treatment needs associated with substance abuse, mental health, and other issues unique to the traumatic experience of war. Some veterans returning home from war find it difficult to integrate back into the community. Veterans with untreated substance abuse or mental health illnesses, including those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), may find it even harder to return home, which can sometimes lead to criminal activity.

Veterans courts involve cooperation and collaboration with traditional partners found in drug courts, such as the judge, state attorney, public defender, case manager, treatment provider, probation, and law enforcement. Added to this interdisciplinary team are representatives of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Veterans Benefit Administration- as well as State Departments of Veterans Affairs, Vet Centers, Veterans Service Organizations, Department of Labor, volunteer veteran mentors, and other veterans support groups.

Veterans courts involve cooperation and collaboration with traditional partners found in drug courts, such as the judge, state attorney, public defender, case manager, treatment provider, probation, and law enforcement. Added to this interdisciplinary team are representatives of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Veterans Benefit Administration- as well as State Departments of Veterans Affairs, Vet Centers, Veterans Service Organizations, Department of Labor, volunteer veteran mentors, and other veterans support groups.

Veterans courts make use of the camaraderie that exists among all veterans. An essential part of veterans court is the addition of volunteer veteran mentors to assist their fellow veterans with a wide array of support. They are principal to the veterans court team and the participants. Their interaction with the participant, including a supportive relationship, maintained throughout the program, increases the likelihood that the participant will remain in treatment and improves the chances of success and sobriety. Veteran mentors volunteer their time and energy to assist their fellow veterans with peer support, housing, employment linkages, job training, education, transportation, disability compensation claims, discharge status and other linkages available at the local, state and federal level.

Furthermore, the VHA plays a key role in veterans court as their services are provided to justice-involved veteran participants. Veterans treatment courts leverage resources available from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to serve these offenders treatment needs.

Current Status

As of July 2018, Florida has 30 veterans courts in operation.

The components of veterans courts, from The Ten Key Components of Veterans Treatment Court, Justice for Vets (a division of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals):

  • Integration of alcohol, drug treatment, and mental health services into justice system case processing
  • Nonadversarial approach
  • Early identification of eligible participants
  • Continuum of services
  • Alcohol and drug testing for abstinence
  • Coordinated strategy for responses to participants’ compliance
  • Ongoing judicial interaction
  • Monitoring and evaluation for program effectiveness
  • Interdisciplinary education
  • Partnerships with stakeholders

    Publications and Resources

    This 2014 guide, prepared by the Florida Supreme Court Task Force on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in the Court, provides information regarding Florida’s veterans courts, mental and physical health issues related to veterans, veterans benefits, a judicial benchguide, and more.

    Since the Veterans Resource Guide for the Florida State Court System was published in 2014, there have been changes to the Florida statutes that govern veterans courts. These changes may have implications on your veterans courts. In addition, since the guide’s publication, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of veterans courts statewide. The guide has been updated to include these changes.

    This site includes resources for veterans and their families, as well as resources for court professionals.

    Data

    Data from 2016 show that Florida’s veterans courts admitted 1,090 participants and graduated 640.

    Florida Supreme Court Governance Groups

    The Task Force on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in the Courts addresses the needs of individuals with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders who become involved in the justice system. Click here to learn more about the work of the Task Force.