Representing Veteran’s and Veterans Treatment Court
For many who serve honorably abroad the transition back to civilian life can often be a difficult time for our nation’s veterans. Like all people, service men and women can make mistakes and often those mistakes can affect their military career or life at home. Something that our Office occasionally sees with veterans is substance abuse that dovetails with mental health problems (commonly PTSD) and criminal behavior. Those who serve are often both strong and proud, and believe they can sort through their problems on their own. This typically comes to head when a veteran is faced with a criminal charge. Our Firm recognizes that veterans need legal representation specifically tailored to their life circumstance, and in our opinion always deserve special consideration by the court.
Luckily, courts are starting to offer programs designed to rehabilitate veterans through promoting sobriety and addressing underlying mental health issues. Most of these courts were beginning to be established in 2012, and as of August 2014, seventeen Michigan counties offer special courts for veterans. What is Veterans Court? It is a treatment court that follows the drug court model (a very successful court for drug addiction) but aimed to address the specific hardship faced by veterans. Oftentimes veterans have trouble asking for help and use alcohol to self-medicate for PTSD. Veterans court is designed to get veterans involved through frequent participation in the court. To be admitted, there must typically be an admission to the charged crime (a guilty plea). Commonly, veterans are first time offenders for domestic violence, operating while intoxicated, and/or disorderly conduct.
From day one, our Firm promotes an open and non-judgmental (and always confidential) conversation about what issues are causing our veteran clients to act out. From there, we try to find a counseling and treatment regimen. Moreover, we can work with drug court administrators where appropriate and assist our clients in getting accepted. Sometimes we will have to engineer a transfer from one district to another. Certain plea bargains can be conditioned on acceptance into Veterans Court, this may result in a reduction, dismissal, or avoiding jail time. Currently, Macomb County offers such courts in Circuit Court and the 41-B District Court in Clinton Twp.
We have long recognized that the struggles of veterans are very unique. It is always our goal for the court to see it the same way, and often they do. We have found where veterans are willing to follow our recommendations we can regularly avoid jail time and get dismissals for first time offenders.