Veterans Court Diversion Programs are a diversion program for veterans who are currently facing prosecution for one or more criminal cases. The program offers offenders a treatment option that is judicially supervised. It is designed to divert veterans out of the traditional criminal justice process and into appropriate rehabilitative alternatives. Once the veteran has been screened, assessed, and approved for participation in the program, he/she will promptly begin a treatment regimen that is specific to his/her needs.
The mission of such systems is to successfully habilitate the veteran by diverting them from the traditional criminal justice system and providing them with the tools they need to lead a productive and law-abiding lifestyle while improving mental health recovery and successful re-entry into the community.
Veterans diversion courts’ goals are to find veterans, assess their needs, offer assistance, manage their care, and provide them with successful treatment options ultimately leading to community reintegration, and resolution of their criminal case(s).
CRITERIA FOR PARTICIPATION (Generalized)
- Veteran or current member of the United States Armed Forces, including a member of the Reserves, National Guard, or State Guard.
- Clinical diagnosis of a brain injury, mental illness, or mental disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder, that resulted from the veterans’ military service in a combat zone or other similar hazardous duty area; and materially affected the veterans’ criminal conduct at issue in the case.
Conditions of the Veterans Court Diversion Program (Generalized):
- Must admit to the commission of the offense, and agree that this admission may be used against the defendant in court as provided by law.
- Must not commit a criminal offense for the duration of the program.
- Must not consume alcohol or non-prescribed controlled substances.
- Must submit to random chemical testing.
- Must cooperate with treatment and/or counseling as recommended.
- Must take all psychiatric medications as prescribed.
- Must keep all appointments and attend all compliance hearings as scheduled.
- Must agree to report to a case manager as directed.
- Must keep the program staff informed of any changes in address, telephone number, and employer.
- Must consent to the release of protected information as permitted under Texas law.
- Must have no contact with any person of disreputable or harmful character.
- Must plead guilty to enter program. With completion of the program the charges are dismissed and eligible for expunction.
- Must acknowledge that failure to comply with any term of this agreement will cause the State to withdraw from this agreement and proceed with prosecution of this offense.
- Must acknowledge that the successful completion of the diversion agreement shall cause the State of Texas to dismiss the charges in this matter.
- Must attend bi-monthly compliance hearings held in open court as directed.
- Must agree to follow any/all directives given by the case manager in accordance with their individual treatment plan.
ACCESS TO THE PROGRAM
Referrals are accepted from a variety of sources, including law enforcement, jail staff, judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, mental health professionals, and family or friends.
- Once a referral is received, the DA’s office reviews it to ensure the minimum criteria are met.
- Following DA review, the veterans are given a date and time to complete screening forms.
- The veterans are scheduled for a face-to-face interview with the program manager.
- A formal comprehensive assessment is completed by the program manager and submitted to the DA’s office for final approval/denial.
- The veterans’ attorney and court of origin are notified of their status after completion of the screening process and again at final disposition.
ELEMENTS OF THE PROGRAM
Participants will develop an individualized treatment plan.
A phase system is utilized to measure participant progress.
Services for education, counseling, and other needs are provided by outside agencies.
Participants are referred to these agencies throughout the program as needed.
Supervision Monitoring – A case manager will monitor each participant placed in the program. The case manager will work closely with the program manager and service providers.
Compliance Hearing – All participants are required to attend bi-monthly compliance hearings. During the hearing, the progress of each participant is reviewed in open court. Both incentives and sanctions are used as methods of motivation.
Disposition of Court Case – The Veterans Court Diversion Program is a 6-to-24 month program. The period directly relates to the participant’s needs and/or compliance. Upon successful completion of the program, the case(s) are dismissed. In the event the agreement is terminated, the case(s) are remanded to the court of origin for continued prosecution.