Veteran’s Treatment Court – Rehabilitation not Punishment

St. Petersburg / Clearwater Veteran’s Criminal Defense Lawyers

Veterans of the United States military sometimes face unique struggles after serving their country. The Florida legislature has recognized veteran’s issues as they relate to the criminal court system and created the Veteran’s Treatment Court program.  In Pinellas County, the Veteran’s Treatment Court (VTC) is held in the same specially designated courtroom as the Pinellas County Drug Court Division (Courtroom N10) located at the Pinellas County Justice Center.

It is no secret that the healthcare system for our veterans has come under great criticism. Unfortunately, the lack of appropriate mental health treatment for those suffering from psychological issues, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety and depression often translates into the abuse of alcohol and drugs in our clients’ efforts to “self-medicate.”  The Veteran’s Treatment Court attempts to address these concerns by providing a comprehensive set of solutions aimed at treatment and rehabilitation, rather than incarceration and punishment.

Avoiding Prison or Becoming a Convicted Felon

There are many benefits to having your lawyer get you accepted and transferred into the Veteran’s Treatment Court Division.  In most cases, participants can avoid a formal conviction for the offense they are charged with by securing a dismissal through a “diversion program,” or by obtaining a “Withholding of Adjudication.”  In some scenarios, where veterans have a prior criminal record, they can avoid a prison sentence where the Florida Criminal Punishment code would otherwise require mandatory incarceration if the case was resolved in a regular felony division.

More importantly, the program offers veterans the opportunity to secure mental health and substance abuse treatment that often served as the catalyst behind the original arrest. Upon acceptance into the Veteran’s Treatment Court, the participant is initially evaluated to determine what form of counseling is most appropriate.  Thereafter, the veteran is required to participate in the recommended counseling sessions. Court proceedings or “status checks” are conducted every four to six weeks.  At these hearings, the Veteran’s Treatment Court Judge is updated on the participant’s progress in treatment.  Likewise, the veterans are asked to informally share the counseling insights they have gained to inspire and encourage other VTC participants.

Qualifying for Veteran’s Treatment Court

If you are a veteran who has been accused of a crime in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, or the surrounding areas of Pinellas county, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney in our office. The consultation is free and we can discuss the unique facts and circumstances of your case. Thereafter we can recommend whether the Veteran’s Treatment Court would be the right option in our efforts to secure you the best possible outcome in your case.

To be eligible for participation in Veteran’s Treatment Court:

  • The individual must be a veteran of the United States military, including the United States Coast Guard;
  • The veteran must be charged with a misdemeanor or third-degree felony;
  • The criminal charge that the veteran is facing must be shown to stem from the underlying physical or psychological issues caused or contributed by the individual’s military service; and
  • An evaluation of the veteran must reveal that he/she is amenable to treatment.

Experienced Veteran’s Court Lawyers

The attorneys at Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan have nearly twenty-five years combined experienced in handling DUI and Criminal Defense cases in Pinellas County. Our office employs Christopher Blaine a United States Army Veteran who regularly volunteers at the Bay Pines VA Hospital in St. Petersburg. Chris helped create the Veterans Alternative Therapy Group which provides alternative modalities to improve the quality of life for our military and Veteran populations.

If you are a veteran who has been accused of a criminal offense in Pinellas County, call our office at (727) 578-0303 for a free consultation.

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