Veterans Court – Montgomery County, PA (Montco)
Information on the Montco Veterans Court eligibility, treatment options, process, requirements, and stipulations from Attorney Saadzoi.
U.S. Vets who honorably served their country deserve to be treated with a higher respect than the common citizen. This includes citizens who are facing criminal charges, especially if they are suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, alcohol or substance abuse addiction, psychological problems, or military sexual trauma.
That is why many counties began offering a special treatment court for U.S. veterans who have been charged with certain types of crimes. In Montgomery County, PA the Veterans Court was established in 2011 to more effectively address the needs of veterans entering the court and prison system.
The Montco Veterans Court is referral-based and has several eligibility requirements. This is a comprehensive program designed to provide substantial support. Participants who qualify and complete the Veterans Treatment Court may have the court consider dismissing or reducing their charges. Determination is on a case-by-case assessment of a prior record and the nature of the offense by the judge(s).
Montco Veterans Court is a collaboration between the Public Defender’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the Court of Common Pleas, the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, the Adult Probation Office, the County Department of Veterans Affairs, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Are you eligible for Veterans Treatment Court?
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At The Law Offices of Wana Saadzoi, Esquire LLC, our primary goal is to have your charges dismissed or significantly reduced.
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Montco Veterans Court – Mission and Goals
“The mission of the Veterans Treatment Court is to enhance public safety and reduce recidivism of criminal defendants who are veterans by connecting them with VA benefits, treatment services and support, and to find appropriate dispositions to their criminal charges by considering the defendant’s treatment needs and the seriousness of the offense.”
Goals of Montco Veterans Court:
- Connect veteran defendants with appropriate VA benefits, treatment and support services;
- Reduce time spent involved with the criminal justice system;
- Decrease time spent in jail by moving defendants expeditiously into appropriate treatment settings;
- Promote employment and other evidence of recovery among defendants served by the Veterans Treatment Court, and;
- Re-establishing veteran defendants as productive members of their communities.
Eligibility into Veterans Treatment Court
Veterans Treatment Court is limited to defendants who are eligible for VA benefits.
In order to participate in the Veterans Treatment Court in Montco PA, a defendant must be a veteran who suffers from any of the following:
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI);
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
- Military Sexual Trauma (MST), or
- Psychological and/or substance abuse problems requiring treatment.
Veterans with co-occurring mental health or substance abuse issues will be evaluated, but may be referred to Drug Treatment Court and/or Behavioral Health Court as alternatives.
Generally, the court prefers to address non-violent criminal offenses such as DUI, misdemeanor drug crimes, and retail theft. However, the court will consider other crimes on a case-by-case basis.
Crimes excluded by the Montco Veterans Court include:
- Felony sex offenses;
- Felony violent crimes;
- Felony violent crimes with a firearm;
- Felony drug offenses, and;
- Murder and Manslaughter are not considered eligible under any circumstance.
*Defendants are considered ineligible if there are any unresolved out-of-county charges. A qualified criminal attorney can help you resolve any pending out-of-county charges.
For more information read the Montgomery County Veterans Court Manual.
There is a referral process when applying to the Montco Veterans Court.
After charges have been filed and the case has been sent to the Court of Common Pleas, a veteran can be referred to Veterans Treatment Court.
Referrals are also accepted for criminal defendants in the Court of Common Pleas for alleged violations of existing probation/parole sentences (Gagnon Hearing).
All applications and referrals should be directed to the Office of Adult Probation.
After the first level of eligibility is determined, the Veterans Justice Outreach Officer (VJO) meets with the veteran to determine VA eligibility and then conducts an assessment. The VJO will then provide a written report of a detailed treatment plan within 2-3 weeks. This plan will then be reviewed by the Veterans Treatment Court Team, who will then collectively make a determination.
Participation Requirements of the Veterans Treatment Court
The Montco Veterans Treatment Court program is extensive. While participation is individualized, the average length of program time is 12-24 months.
It is a highly structured program with three phases. Weekly appearances in court and with probation officers can be expected during Phase I, every other week in Phase II, and monthly in Phase III.
The Veterans Treatment Court, through the County Department of Veterans Affairs, will match a participant with a mentor (also a U.S. Vet). The mentor is assigned upon admission.
Participants can also expect treatment sessions, scheduled and random alcohol and drug testing, and following through with treatment plans, as well as other stipulations and requirements.
Participants must complete assigned courses or treatment programs in order to not be dismissed from the program. A dismissal will mean that criminal proceedings will resume in a regular court.
How Can Attorney Saadzoi Help?
Attorney Saadzoi and our team of experienced criminal attorneys honor, appreciate and are grateful for the service of our veterans. We understand that mental health plays a vital role in the choices people make and that everyone deserves a second chance to get back on their feet without worrying about the past.
We work with our clients and listen to all the details of their cases to better understand how we can fight the charges for them – either to press for them to be dismissed completely or push to get your charges significantly reduced.
Attorney Saadzoi has years of experience successfully helping clients get their criminal charges reduced, dismissed, and resolved. We work hard to ensure you understand the legal options available so you know what you are up against – and how to fight your charges to get them reduced or even dropped altogether.
Attorney Saadzoi will do everything possible to get your charges reduced or dismissed altogether.
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