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Veterans’ Court

If you are a military veteran charged with a felony or misdemeanor offense, then talk with an attorney about whether you might be eligible to enter veterans’ court or a pretrial veterans’ treatment intervention program.

The pretrial veterans’ treatment intervention program is referenced in section 948.16(2) which provides:

(2)(a) A veteran, as defined in s. 1.01, including a veteran who is discharged or released under a general discharge, or servicemember, as defined in s. 250.01, who suffers from a military service-related mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder, or psychological problem, and who is charged with a misdemeanor is eligible for voluntary admission into a misdemeanor pretrial veterans’ treatment intervention program approved by the chief judge of the circuit, for a period based on the program’s requirements and the treatment plan for the offender, upon motion of either party or the court’s own motion. However, the court may deny the defendant admission into a misdemeanor pretrial veterans’ treatment intervention program if the defendant has previously entered a court-ordered veterans’ treatment program.

(b) While enrolled in a pretrial intervention program authorized by this section, the participant shall be subject to a coordinated strategy developed by a veterans’ treatment intervention team. The coordinated strategy should be modeled after the therapeutic jurisprudence principles and key components in s. 397.334(4), with treatment specific to the needs of veterans and servicemembers. The coordinated strategy may include a protocol of sanctions that may be imposed upon the participant for noncompliance with program rules. The protocol of sanctions may include, but need not be limited to, placement in a treatment program offered by a licensed service provider or in a jail-based treatment program or serving a period of incarceration within the time limits established for contempt of court. The coordinated strategy must be provided in writing to the participant before the participant agrees to enter into a misdemeanor pretrial veterans’ treatment intervention program or other pretrial intervention program. Any person whose charges are dismissed after successful completion of the misdemeanor pretrial veterans’ treatment intervention program, if otherwise eligible, may have his or her arrest record of the dismissed charges expunged under s. 943.0585.

In 2012, the Florida legislature enacted 394.47891, which provides:

The chief judge of each judicial circuit may establish a Military Veterans and Servicemembers Court Program under which veterans, as defined in s. 1.01, and servicemembers, as defined in s. 250.01, who are convicted of a criminal offense and who suffer from a military-related mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder, or psychological problem can be sentenced in accordance with chapter 921 in a manner that appropriately addresses the severity of the mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder, or psychological problem through services tailored to the individual needs of the participant.

Entry into any Military Veterans and Servicemembers Court Program must be based upon the sentencing court’s assessment of the defendant’s criminal history, military service, substance abuse treatment needs, mental health treatment needs, amenability to the services of the program, the recommendation of the state attorney and the victim, if any, and the defendant’s agreement to enter the program.

Sections 948.08(7) provides:

(7)(a) Notwithstanding any provision of this section, a person who is charged with a felony, other than a felony listed in s. 948.06(8)(c), and identified as a veteran, as defined in s. 1.01; a veteran who is discharged or released under any condition; a servicemember, as defined in s. 250.01; an individual who is a current or former United States Department of Defense contractor; or an individual who is a current or former military member of a foreign allied country, who suffers from a military service-related mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder, or psychological problem is eligible for voluntary admission into a pretrial veterans’ treatment intervention program approved by the chief judge of the circuit, upon motion of either party or the court’s own motion, except:

1. If a defendant was previously offered admission to a pretrial veterans’ treatment intervention program at any time before trial and the defendant rejected that offer on the record, the court may deny the defendant’s admission to such a program.

2. If a defendant previously entered a court-ordered veterans’ treatment program, the court may deny the defendant’s admission into the pretrial veterans’ treatment program.

(b) While enrolled in a pretrial intervention program authorized by this subsection, the participant shall be subject to a coordinated strategy developed by a veterans’ treatment intervention team. The coordinated strategy should be modeled after the therapeutic jurisprudence principles and key components in s. 397.334(4), with treatment specific to the needs of servicemembers and veterans. The coordinated strategy may include a protocol of sanctions that may be imposed upon the participant for noncompliance with program rules. The protocol of sanctions may include, but need not be limited to, placement in a treatment program offered by a licensed service provider or in a jail-based treatment program or serving a period of incarceration within the time limits established for contempt of court. The coordinated strategy must be provided in writing to the participant before the participant agrees to enter into a pretrial veterans’ treatment intervention program or other pretrial intervention program. Any person whose charges are dismissed after successful completion of the pretrial veterans’ treatment intervention program, if otherwise eligible, may have his or her arrest record of the dismissed charges expunged under s. 943.0585.

(c) At the end of the pretrial intervention period, the court shall consider the recommendation of the treatment program and the recommendation of the state attorney as to disposition of the pending charges. The court shall determine, by written finding, whether the defendant has successfully completed the pretrial intervention program. If the court finds that the defendant has not successfully completed the pretrial intervention program, the court may order the person to continue in education and treatment, which may include treatment programs offered by licensed service providers or jail-based treatment programs, or order that the charges revert to normal channels for prosecution. The court shall dismiss the charges upon a finding that the defendant has successfully completed the pretrial intervention program.

Section 948.16(2) provides:

2)(a) A veteran, as defined in s. 1.01; a veteran who is discharged or released under any condition; a servicemember, as defined in s. 250.01; an individual who is a current or former United States Department of Defense contractor; or an individual who is a current or former military member of a foreign allied country, who suffers from a military service-related mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder, or psychological problem, and who is charged with a misdemeanor is eligible for voluntary admission into a misdemeanor pretrial veterans’ treatment intervention program approved by the chief judge of the circuit, for a period based on the program’s requirements and the treatment plan for the offender, upon motion of either party or the court’s own motion. However, the court may deny the defendant admission into a misdemeanor pretrial veterans’ treatment intervention program if the defendant has previously entered a court-ordered veterans’ treatment program.

(b) While enrolled in a pretrial intervention program authorized by this section, the participant shall be subject to a coordinated strategy developed by a veterans’ treatment intervention team. The coordinated strategy should be modeled after the therapeutic jurisprudence principles and key components in s. 397.334(4), with treatment specific to the needs of veterans and servicemembers. The coordinated strategy may include a protocol of sanctions that may be imposed upon the participant for noncompliance with program rules. The protocol of sanctions may include, but need not be limited to, placement in a treatment program offered by a licensed service provider or in a jail-based treatment program or serving a period of incarceration within the time limits established for contempt of court. The coordinated strategy must be provided in writing to the participant before the participant agrees to enter into a misdemeanor pretrial veterans’ treatment intervention program or other pretrial intervention program. Any person whose charges are dismissed after successful completion of the misdemeanor pretrial veterans’ treatment intervention program, if otherwise eligible, may have his or her arrest record of the dismissed charges expunged under s. 943.0585.


This article was last updated on Friday, October 23, 2020.

 

 

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