Florida’s Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) extends to 31 jurisdictions as of March 2019. Veterans Treatment Court offers veterans who face misdemeanor or third-degree felony charges a way to get treatment for their mental health or substance abuse issues instead of going to jail or facing other penalties, and it typically lasts 12 to 24 months, depending on the facts of the individual case.
In the Tampa Bay area, there are two Veterans Treatment Court locations. The Sixth Judicial Circuit serves Pinellas and Pasco counties and offers Veterans Treatment Court, as does the 13th Judicial Circuit that serves Hillsborough County.
Veterans Treatment Court: The Basics
Veterans Treatment Court is available to qualifying veterans whose mental health concerns or substance abuse issues have caused them legal trouble. Veteran Treatment Courts are becoming more popular and showing success nationwide. They stem from an understanding that veterans may go through several complex issues related to the traumatic experiences they went through while deployed. Treatment needs vary widely, and many veterans suffer from undiagnosed or untreated:
- Substance abuse issues
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Other mental health concerns
When a veteran commits a crime, their substance abuse or impaired mental health often play a role. Instead of sending them to jail or putting them on probation, Veterans Treatment Court requires them to complete substance abuse and/or mental health treatment. In addition, they appear before a Veterans Treatment Court judge regularly and undergo frequent drug testing. This program is voluntary but includes court-supervised treatment and requires the veteran to successfully complete the program to get their charges dismissed.
In some cases, veterans opt for post-plea Veterans Treatment Court instead of applying for the program as an early intervention. When this occurs, the Veterans Treatment Court is a part of their probation. When a veteran successfully completes the post-plea Veterans Treatment Court, the court can opt to reduce their probation or withhold adjudication.
Eligibility for Veterans Treatment Court
Not all veterans qualify for Veterans Treatment Court, as it requires you to meet certain criteria in addition to getting approval from the State Attorney’s Office. You will have to apply, and they will review your records before approving you.
The qualifications for Veterans Treatment Court locations in Florida include:
- You served in the U.S. military, or you are a current member of the U.S. Armed Forces, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, or National Guard and Reserves;
- Suffer from physical injuries or mental issues related to your service that caused you to commit the crime in question;
- You face non-violent misdemeanor or third-degree felony charges;
- You have not previously used VTC, although the State Attorney can waive this qualification on a case-by-case basis; and
- Your evaluation shows you are amenable to treatment and will likely benefit from mental health and/or substance abuse treatment.
Deciding if Veterans Treatment Court Is Right for You and Your Tampa Bay Criminal Case
The criminal defense attorneys from Goldman Wetzel can help you weigh your options and determine if the Veterans Treatment Court offers a good opportunity to get a more favorable outcome in your case. The attorneys from Goldman Wetzel come from varied backgrounds — Summer Goldman in the prosecutor’s office and Maribeth Wetzel as a career defense attorney — and both work together on every case we take on.
We know what the State Attorney’s Office looks for in a Veterans Treatment Court application and can help you understand if you will qualify. When you choose our team to represent you in your case, we will investigate what happened and develop a defense strategy to serve your best interests despite the charges you face. If you qualify, this may include the Veterans Treatment Court.
Talk to a Goldman Wetzel Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Case Today
If the police arrested you or you face charges in or around Tampa Bay, the attorneys from Goldman Wetzel are here to help. We want to discuss your case with you and find the best option to get the most favorable outcome possible in your case. If you meet the qualifications for Veterans Treatment Court, this may be a great option to get the treatment you need while also avoiding serious penalties related to being a conviction.
We serve clients in Tampa Bay, Bradenton, Pinellas County, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and elsewhere in the Tampa area. This includes cases in both Veterans Treatment Court locations in the Sixth Judicial Circuit and the 13th Judicial Circuit.
Call us today at 727-828-3900. A member of our team can talk to you about our service and provide an initial review of your case. The earlier you call us, the earlier the attorneys from Goldman Wetzel can go to work on your defense strategy.