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Options for veterans facing criminal charges

Military veterans face tremendous challenges when adapting to civilian life after armed service. These challenges can be exacerbated by the lasting psychological effects of war. For example, veterans suffering from PTSD and other psychological wounds often show a higher rate of criminal behavior.

Naturally, this does not mean that our wounded warriors are bad people, or that they have any criminal intent. Research has shown a distinct link between psychological injuries incurred in service and criminal behavior after returning to the United States.

The importance of fair treatment for veterans accused of crimes

By now, most people know that putting an offender in prison is not always the best course of action - for the accused or for society at large. Often, rehabilitation measures such as therapy, addiction treatment and employment counseling are more effective at healing the individual and preventing future offenses.

With that in mind, California passed penal code 1170.9 in 1982. This law guides courts to consider alternatives to prison time for military veterans for certain offenses. This allows veterans to focus on healing rather than spending time in prison because of a service-related injury.

There are certain requirements that must be fulfilled to qualify:

  • The accused must be a military veteran.
  • He or she must have a mental condition that is related to military service.
  • That condition must also be related to the crime in question.
  • The veteran must plead guilty or be found guilty by the court.
  • Probation must be available for the offense.
  • Appropriate treatment must be available.

Because this option requires a guilty plea, it is important to understand the implications for your record and consider the impact on your future.

After fighting for our country and our freedom, veterans deserve a chance to fight for themselves. If you or a loved one is a veteran who has become entangled in the justice system, it is important to know your rights - and to work with an attorney who can help you protect them. Consideer contacting a lawyer with experience in California's Veterans Treatment Courts.

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