Veterans courts are specialty courts that seek to address the particular challenges that many veterans face with mental illness and substance addiction. They emphasize the delivery of treatment, not the infliction of punishment, as the right response to many types of offenses, rather than the often-punitive responses of the criminal law.
At the Law Offices of Derek P. Wisehart, we are excited about the opportunity that the veterans court in Tulare County offers for the resolution of legal disputes. We are experienced with all types of criminal charges. We have received many questions about these special courts, including:
Does Tulare County have a veterans court?
Yes. Tulare County created its veterans court in 2010. Not all counties in California have these courts.
Who qualifies for veterans court?
Acceptance into veterans court is based on a case-by-case review by the Veterans Court Board. A candidate must be found to be both eligible and suitable.
Am I eligible for veterans court?
To be eligible for the Tulare County veterans court, there are several eligibility criteria you must meet. For starters:
- You must provide documentation of combat service and be no longer on active duty.
- You must also be a resident of Tulare County and voluntarily agree to participate.
- You have to sign a waiver to release your medical records.
Referrals to veterans court come from various stakeholders in the justice system, including the police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges or probation officers. The key question, ultimately, is whether you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a substance abuse problem or a mental health issue with a nexus to your military service that is best addressed in a treatment setting rather than in the regular criminal justice system.
I know I am eligible for the program. But will my case be considered suitable?
That depends on your specific circumstances. Talk with your defense attorney about this.
How does the program work?
If the court accepts you into the program, you will have to plead guilty to the offense you have been charged with. But you will have a chance to get the charges dismissed entirely if you complete the program successfully.
How long does the program last?
Generally, the program lasts 18 months. A veterans court judge will check on your progress monthly throughout this time, including your compliance with random drug checks. You must attend a monthly court review.
Can I get help to re-engage in civilian life?
Yes. Talk with your defense lawyer about how this program fits with your larger life goals.
Still Have Questions? Call Us.
If you are a veteran who has gotten into trouble with the law, we encourage you to call us to discuss your specific case in a free consultation. You can reach us at our office in Visalia at 559-429-5630 or 800-742-6392, or send us an email.