Veterans Treatment Court – Hillsborough County – Tampa – Florida


Can Veterans in Felony and Misdemeanor Cases Receive Help and avoid jail?


Criminal Charges - Veterans Treatment Court Tampa

Help for Veterans

Yes. In 2015, the Chief Judge of the circuit court in Hillsborough County entered an order significantly expanding treatment resources available to veterans who are charged with both misdemeanor and felony criminal offenses. Prior to this order only misdemeanor charges were eligible for this opportunity to have charges dismissed. The court noted that there were a large number of veterans suffering from military service related mental illnesses, traumatic brain injuries, substance abuse issues, and psychological issues that may have caused them to enter the criminal justice system. The history of the Treatment Court can be found here. Help for veterans is available from a certified expert, W.F . “Casey” Ebsary, Jr.

What are the terms of the admission to this veterans treatment court program?


The terms of the admission to this program are contained in a memorandum of understanding that details the processing of cases in Veterans treatment court. In Circuit Court and County Criminal Court, the court is designated as division “V”. The program requires waving speedy trial, since failure to complete the program results in the case being refiled in criminal court. Sometimes veterans are placed in a treatment program by a licensed service provider and failure to comply with the treatment professional’s conditions can be enforced by contempt of court – that can include jail. The defendant must attend court hearings set by the veterans treatment Court judge and participate in assessment and treatment to help move the case to dismissal.

Who is eligible for Veteran’s Treatment Court?


The eligible charges are ordinance violations, misdemeanor offenses other than DUI, and nonviolent third degree felony offenses. Felony DUI is excluded from the program, so there will not be any relief there. If the court unsuccessfully discharges the veteran from the program, the case is transferred back to the criminal division where it was originally filed. Generally, veterans treatment court helps treat veterans with honor and respect and is modeled after principles of therapeutic jurisprudence. In other words, instead of sending people to jail, we send them to get help.

Can active-duty military personnel get help in the Veterans Treatment Court?


A key component of this program is that the defendant must be willing to accept help. After completing this program records can be sealed or expunged under Florida Statute 943.058. Such a sealing of records is handled by the judge that originally handled the case in veterans treatment court. Florida Statute 250.01 defines active duty military, and some of these people may be also helped by the treatment court, notwithstanding the fact that they are not technically veterans under many other legal definitions.

Veterans Court – Tampa – Hillsborough County, Florida

Veterans Treatment Court, Dismissed, Pretrial Diversion, Pretrial Intervention, Misdemeanor Intervention
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.

UPDATE: 2015 – Court Now Allows Help with Felony Crimes – Click Here

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.