Facing Criminal Charges? Get Help Today
If you have been charged with a crime, you need an experienced San Diego military lawyer assisting you. We have over 18 years of combined experience helping soldiers and vets facing criminal charges. Don’t wait for the situation to get worse. Call today for a free consultation to find out how we can assist you.
California Military Diversion Program
California Military Diversion Program Offers Veterans an Alternative to the Criminal Justice System
Serving in the military is no easy task. The servicemen and servicewomen who are deployed are likely to encounter what the Bureau of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) calls “combat stressors.” These can include seeing dead bodies, being shot at, being attacked, receiving enemy rocket or mortar fire, or knowing someone who was killed or seriously injured. These combat stressors frequently result in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military veterans. The VA estimates that 10 to 18 percent of veterans suffer from PTSD when they return home from active duty service.
Veteran Treatment Courts in California
PTSD can cause a number of behavioral issues. This includes criminal conduct. California lawmakers, recognizing an increase in veteran-related criminal behavior in the early 2000s, took steps to create alternative sentencing programs. Veteran Treatment Courts began to pop up in California in the late 2000s. Today, there are 33 Veteran Treatment Courts across California. The Veteran Treatment Courts allow veterans who complete certain treatment programs to avoid traditional criminal penalties. Veterans can petition to have their criminal case transferred to a Veteran Treatment Court. If that petition is granted they are required to plead guilty to the crime they are accused of committing. The Court will not formally enter the plea at that time. The veteran is then required to complete certain rehabilitation and/or treatment programs. Upon successful completion, the court will dismiss the charges against them altogether. This allows veterans to (1) get the treatment they need and (2) sidestep the criminal consequences of their actions.
Military Diversion Program in California
One glaring problem with the Veteran Treatment Court is that veterans who need mental health or substance abuse counseling can only get it once they go through this lengthy legal process. In 2014, a Penal Code 1001.8 formally established what is known as a Military Diversion program. This program is specifically designed to assist veterans who suffer from mental health or substance abuse issues after they have been arrested. Participation in the Military Diversion program allows members of the military and veterans to get the help they need as much as one year sooner than they would going through the Veteran Treatment Court process.
California Military Diversion Program Eligibility Requirements
The Military Diversion program is not available to all military servicepeople and veterans. There are specific eligibility requirements that must be met before a case will be transferred to the Military Diversion program. A military servicemember or veteran may submit his or her criminal case to the Military Diversion program if:
- They have been charged with a misdemeanor offense;
- They are a former or current member of a branch of the United States military force; and
- They suffer from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, sexual abuse, or other mental health issues because of their military service.
Veterans and military servicepeople who apply to the Military Diversion program must waive their Constitutional right to a speedy trial. Additionally, Military Diversion may not have been granted in another case.
Completion of the Military Diversion Program
If a current or former member of the military is admitted to the Military Diversion program, he or she will be required to complete a supervised treatment regimen. Examples of conditions of Military Diversion programs include:
- One to two years of treatment;
- Random drug and alcohol testing;
- Substance abuse counseling;
- Domestic violence education and treatment programs;
- Drunk driving education and awareness programs; and
- Any other therapy or treatment deemed to be necessary for successful rehabilitation.
Once a member of the military has completed his or her program requirements the criminal charges against them will be dismissed. In fact, it will be as if they were never arrested in the first place. (Note: the Department of Justice will keep a sealed record and the military defendant will be required to disclose the arrest if they seek employment as a law enforcement officer.)
If a member of the military fails to successfully complete his or her program requirements the criminal case will be transferred to a traditional criminal court. The member of the military will then be subject to the criminal sentence associated with his or her crime if convicted.
If you need assistance after being arrested and are not a member of the U.S. Armed Forces in Southern California, then call a Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer with a proven track record of success.
Did you know that you have protections under the U.S. Constitution against unreasonable search and seizures? If you think your civil rights were violated by law enforcement agents, you may be able to pursue a civil case against a government entity. We recommend you contact a personal injury lawyer to assist you.
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