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The California judicial branch has broadened the use of the collaborative court concept in recent years. It is a specialized court track that is designed to address underlying issues present in the lives of individuals who come before the criminal justice system. This includes a veterans treatment court program.

Definition of veterans treatment court

The California judicial system defines the veterans treatment court as a program tailored to address the unique needs of vets who find themselves involved in the criminal justice system. The veterans judicial option is a collaborative court. Through the program, a participant meets regularly with a judicial officer, treatment professionals, mentors, other veterans and other supportive team members

Primary veterans treatment court eligibility requirements

There are four primary veteran treatment court eligibility requirements, all of which must be satisfied:

  • Prior military service
  • Pleaded guilty in a criminal proceeding
  • Experienced a health condition including post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, substance use disorder, or some other medically recognized condition or disorder
  • Agree to participate in a 15- to 18-month program

Judge’s order to enter collaborative court

A veteran in the criminal justice system can request to participate in this program. Entry is not automatic. A judge presiding in a criminal case involving a veteran reviews the facts and circumstances surrounding the matter and the status of the defendant. If a judge concurs that the program would benefit a veteran in the criminal justice system, the court issues an order placing the defendant in that collaborative court program.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer has the background to pursue a client’s entry into collaborative court. The ultimate objective is to develop a program that addresses underlying issues to lessen the odds that a veteran reenters the criminal justice system in the future.

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