Benefit of the Veterans Court is
that upon successful completion,
there is a court order administratively
dismissing the charges.
History of the Veterans Treatment Court
In 2013, the Chief Judge of the Hillsborough County Court system created a new criminal subdivision of the county court to focus on people who have misdemeanor offenses. The court division was created for veterans, who suffer from military or service related conditions. The court considers the unique nature of issues related to veterans and the need for treatment in an environment that will help with wellness and the continuing necessity to help protect the public.
Who is Eligible for Dismissal of Criminal Charges?
The county criminal division of the Veterans Court allows people who are veterans, honorably discharged, who suffer from service-related mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, and/or psychological problems to become eligible for the benefits of this program. There are certain offenses that are eligible for admission to the court they are listed in the court order.
DUI charges are not eligible for the program. To be eligible, the defendant must be evaluated by the Veterans Administration or other state or federal court approved facility. The program is completely voluntary. Some cases are referred directly by the State Attorney’s Office to the Veterans Court, if they appear eligible.
What Happens in the Veterans Treatment Court?
Once assigned to the Veterans Court Division, there are court hearings that are required and will be set by the judge in charge of the Veterans Court. It is required that all participants continue to participate in recommended treatment. If the court determines that the defendant has not complied, the case will be discharged from the Veterans Court. The case will proceed as if it had been originally filed in a criminal division.
How Are Criminal Charges Dismissed in the Veterans Court?
The benefit of the Veterans Court is that upon successful completion, there is a court order administratively dismissing the charges. The program in misdemeanor court is 12 months. Under the 2013 order, only misdemeanor charges were eligible. A felony charge, until recently, was not eligible for this unique approach to handling our nation’s veterans. You can review the changes that occurred in 2015 here.