Veteran’s Court

In 2012, the Florida Legislature passed the T. Patt Maney Veterans’ Treatment Intervention Act, which codified Florida Statute § 394.47891, such that the chief judge of each judicial circuit can establish a Military Veterans and Servicemembers Court Program. 

Under this program, veterans and servicemembers who suffer from a military-related mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder, or psychological problem can be sentenced in a manner that appropriately addresses the severity of the mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder, or psychological problem through services tailored to the individual needs of the participant.

The Statute states that entry into any Military Veterans and Servicemembers Court Program must be based upon the sentencing court’s assessment of the alleged offender's criminal history, military service, substance abuse treatment needs, mental health treatment needs, amenability to the services of the program, the recommendation of the state attorney and the alleged victim, if any, and the alleged offender’s agreement to enter the program.

Veterans and Servicemembers Court Programs focus more on rehabilitating veterans and servicemembers rather than imposing punishments for alleged criminal offenses.

Lawyer for Veteran’s Court in Pensacola, FL

If you or your loved one is a veteran or servicemember who was recently arrested in the Florida Panhandle for any alleged criminal offense, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel.

The Law Office of James M. Burns aggressively defends veterans and servicemembers facing all kinds of criminal charges in Pensacola, Navarre, Milton, Pace, Perdido Key, and Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

James M. Burns is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Pensacola who has defended individual accused of crimes for years. He can review your case and discuss all of your legal options as soon as you call (850) 457-6002 to receive a free initial consultation.


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Escambia County Veteran’s Court Information Center


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Veteran’s Court Eligibility in Florida

The Okaloosa County Veterans Court involves a voluntary 12-18 month program designed for veterans and servicemembers who are currently experiencing legal problems due to suffering from behavioral, mental health, or substance abuse disorders. Veterans and servicemembers are defined as follows in Florida: 

  • Veteran, Florida Statute § 1.01(14) — A person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under honorable conditions only or who later received an upgraded discharge under honorable conditions, notwithstanding any action by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs on individuals discharged or released with other than honorable discharges. To receive benefits as a wartime veteran, a veteran must have served in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized or during one of the following periods of wartime service: Spanish-American War (April 21, 1898-July 4, 1902), Mexican Border Period (May 9, 1916-April 5, 1917), World War I (April 6, 1917-November 11, 1918), World War II (December 7, 1941-December 31, 1946), Korean War (June 27, 1950-January 31, 1955), Vietnam War (February 28, 1961-May 7, 1975), Persian Gulf War (August 2, 1990-January 2, 1992), Operation Enduring Freedom (October 7, 2001-date thereafter prescribed by presidential proclamation or by law), or Operation Iraqi Freedom (March 19, 2003-date thereafter prescribed by presidential proclamation or by law).

 

  • Servicemember, Florida Statute § 250.01 — Any person serving as a member of the United States Armed Forces on active duty or state active duty and all members of the Florida National Guard and United States Reserve Forces.

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Veteran's Court Process in Pensacola

When an alleged offender is arrested for a criminal offense, he or she should identify him or herself as a veteran or servicemember when making his or her first court appearance. The veteran or servicemember should be assigned to a Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) coordinator who will verify that the alleged offender is eligible for United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits.

If a veteran or servicemember agrees to participate in the Veterans Court program, he or she may be required to comply with intensive probation supervision, counseling and peer mentoring, random drug and alcohol testing, medication monitoring, and social services. Sanctions such as community service, fines, jail time, can be imposed if the veteran or servicemember fails to satisfy the obligations of the court. Certain cases may be transferred out of Veterans Treatment Court back to traditional criminal court.

If a veteran or servicemember is charged with a misdemeanor, he or she is eligible for voluntary admission to a misdemeanor pretrial veteran's court. If a veteran or servicemember is charged with a felony (other than a felony listed in Florida Statute § 948.06(8)(c)), he or she is eligible for voluntary admission into a pretrial veterans court. If a veteran is adjudicated of a felony offense, he or she may be sentenced in a manner that appropriately addresses the severity of the mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder, or psychological problem through services tailored to the veteran’s needs.


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Veteran's Court Resources in Escambia County

Veterans Resource Guide For the Florida State Court System | Florida Courts — View a June 13, 2014, document prepared by the Florida Supreme Court Task Force on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in the Courts. The document discusses why veterans are unique, how veteran's courts work, and justice-involved veterans programs. You can also learn more about veteran benefits, mental health, and physical health considerations. 

Veterans Treatment Court — View the full text of a brochure produced by the Fort Lauderdale-based Nova Southeastern University (NSU) Shepard Broad Law Center. You can learn more about the veteran population in Florida served by such courts. You can also find information about the transfer process and requirements once admitted.


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The Law Office of James M. Burns | Pensacola Veteran's Court Attorney

Are you or your loved one a veteran or servicemember who was recently arrested anywhere in Escambia or Santa Rosa Counties for any alleged criminal offense? The Law Office of James M. Burns understands that all are innocent until proven guilty in the United States. Regardless of whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, James M. Burns will fight to obtain the best possible result. 

Pensacola criminal defense lawyer James M. Burns represents individuals all over the Florida Panhandle, including such communities as Navarre, Perdido Key, Pace, Milton, and Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Call (850) 457-6002 or fill out an online contact form to have our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.

This article was last updated on Monday, April 2, 2018.