What is Utah’s Veterans Court?

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

Veterans Court refers to a “diversionary program” that can help veterans with mental health issues seek treatment to help them from committing further crimes.  Many crimes stem from an individual’s struggles with mental health, especially for veterans.  Veterans Court seeks to help offenders deal with the mental health issues with the simultaneous goal of keeping the public safe by reducing recidivism.  If you are a veteran charged with a crime in Salt Lake City, contact a Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer at Overson Law today for a free consultation on your case.

How Does Veterans Court Work in Utah?

Veterans Court is not a specific courthouse or location like most courts.  Instead, Veterans Court is a “diversionary program” designed as an intervention that stops offenders from going through the normal criminal justice system.  Instead, veterans seek mental health care and other help from the Veterans Court, which includes treatment aimed at reducing further involvement in crime.

Many veterans suffer from mental health issues related to the trauma of their experiences.  Some issues, such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) are directly related to their time in the armed services, but others may develop independently of their experiences.  Veterans Court seeks to help with many of these issues by providing access to mental health care professionals in conjunction with the VA and Veterans Hospitals.

The Veterans Court is very similar to the Mental Health Court and is modeled after it.  Under that system, offenders with serious mental illness, including things like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective disorders apply for the court and seek treatment instead of jail time.

By providing offenders with mental health care, Veterans Court can help prevent further offenses.  Many veterans seek out criminal activity either as a direct result of their mental illness or because of the isolation and difficulty that their disorder causes.  The Veterans Court seeks to fight that and help keep veterans away from further crime.

Applying to Veterans Court in Salt Lake City

The process for applying to Veterans Court is not easy to find information on.  Working with an attorney is incredibly helpful to ensure that you not only meet the requirements for Veterans Court but also that you follow ongoing requirements to ensure that your case is accepted to the Veterans Court.

As with most diversionary programs, you may be required to enter a guilty plea as part of your application to Veterans Court.  This plea serves multiple important purposes in the Veterans Court system.  First, it shows that your concern is not with your guilt or innocence, but with getting the help you need.  This process is long and will be a challenge for many applicants.  This leads to the second purpose of the plea deal: assurance.  If you fail to follow the requirements set by the Veterans Court, the prosecution can enter your guilty plea and send your case back to court for traditional sentencing.  Ultimately, this can mean facing jail or prison instead of getting the help you need.

To qualify for Veterans Court, you must have committed a qualifying crime.  Many seriously violent crimes like murder or manslaughter may not be eligible for Veterans Court.  In addition, many DUI cases and sex crimes are simply not the kind of crime that the Veterans Court is equipped to deal with.

There may also be medical requirements that apply to your application.  To qualify, you usually must have a mental disorder that the court is equipped to work with.  Many courts accept applicants with personality disorders and may accept PTSD cases.  However, some courts are not equipped to help individuals with mental disorders stemming from brain injuries and other physical trauma.

While undergoing treatment, it is expected that you refrain from further crime.  Any time that you are involved in a process like Veterans Court, Mental Health Court, or probation, one of the terms of the program will be that you do not commit any additional crimes.  Failing to remain crime-free can mean ending your time with the Veterans Court and sending you back to jail.

It is important to work with a criminal defense attorney who can help guide you through the requirements not only to apply to the program but also to stay in the program and complete it successfully.

Salt Lake City Veterans Court Defense Lawyers Offering Free Consultations

If you or a loved one is a veteran that has been charged with a crime, talk to an attorney about Veterans Court.  The Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers at Overson Law may be able to help you apply to Veterans Court and avoid jail time for your offense by getting you the help you need with mental health disorders and other treatment to prevent re-offending.  For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (801) 758-2287.