Veterans Diversion Program Attorney in Ocean County NJ
For those who served in the military, help is available should they get in trouble with the law. The Veterans Diversion Program is open to eligible veterans who need rehabilitation services rather than punishment for crimes they are charged with committing. In the program, veterans with mental illness or those coping with mental health challenges have access to counseling, substance abuse programs, addiction counseling, employment, housing, medical and educational services, mentorship, and other resources. The program aims to help the service member recover from addiction, cope with illness, or otherwise address the source of the underlying problems that led them to commit a crime. The program objective is to rehabilitate the service member and return them to society prepared to be better adjusted, law-abiding citizens. Ultimately, being accepted into the Veteran’s Diversion Program means those facing criminal charges who have served or are currently serving their country can avoid the serious consequences of being convicted and move forward with their lives. Once the charges have been dismissed, a completed applicant can then apply to have the entire record of the case, including their arrest, expunged.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense and have questions about your potential eligibility for the New Jersey Veteran’s Diversion Program, please contact our Point Pleasant law office for a free consultation. Our criminal defense attorneys proudly defend veterans and active military service members throughout the greater Ocean County area, including in Toms River, Jackson, Manchester, Berkeley, Brick, and Long Beach Island. Call (848) 238-2100 for particular guidance and assistance with your criminal case. You can also reach us online to schedule a consultation or an appoint at our local office in Ocean County.
How do You get into the Veterans Diversion Program in New Jersey?
Acceptance to the program rests on the approval of the prosecutor handling the veteran’s criminal case. Once a prosecutor reviews their eligibility and accepts their application, a veteran may receive the benefits of a program tailored to their needs. An eligible candidate must be a present or past member of the military, military reserves, or National Guard and be charged with a non-violent crime no greater than a third degree crime. They must also suffer from mental illness, as defined by the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which includes post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or other mental health issues. If qualified, a prosecutor may review a veteran’s application for the diversionary program and decide if the candidate would successfully complete the program.
Unlike the Pre-Trial Intervention program and similar diversion programs open to first-time offenders, the Veterans Diversion Program does not confine its applicants to first-time offenders, nor does it disqualify applicants for previously having completed the program. The prosecutor decides if an applicant benefits from entering the program each time they apply.
In view of the public’s debt to service members for sacrificing their lives, the state program’s eligibility rules are more lenient and exclusive to veterans. Identifying an eligible candidate begins at arrest. A police officer asks the charged individual if they are active-duty service members or former service members. If so, the officer, in consultation with a superior officer, may divert the accused to the Veterans Diversion program instead of charging them on a warrant-complaint or summons-complaint, but only if they are eligible for the program. An ineligible member owes restitution to a victim, committed violence, threatened violence, or violated a restraining order. A victim may also object to the accused entering the program, which renders them ineligible. If eligible, however, they must show proof of their military service and may enter the program before or after a complaint is filed against them.
Completing the Application Process for the NJ Veterans Diversion Program
To apply for the program, an eligible applicant must fill out the Veterans Diversion Program application and deliver it to the court handling the criminal charge or charges via email or other manner prescribed by the court. An attorney can help the applicant fill out the form so that they represent their case as favorably as possible to the prosecutor and better the chances of acceptance to the program. A criminal defense attorney is helpful throughout the process to ensure successful entry to the program or, if unsuccessful, to defend the accused against the charges. Since failure to complete the diversion program lands the accused back into the criminal justice system, an attorney who knows the case from the beginning can significantly help them chart the course of their defense.
Factors Considered for Veterans Diversion Program Applications
The prosecutor reviewing an application considers how the veteran’s or active service member’s mental health issues contributed to the crime or crimes committed. For example, whether depression and anxiety are connected to possessing a controlled dangerous substance charge. They also consider the circumstances and severity of the crime or offense, the criminal history of the applicant, the availability of services the applicant needs, the desire of the accused to be in the program, the victim’s wishes, and how successful the applicant may be in completing and benefitting from the program. The aims of the diversion program are to deter future crime and protect the public. Some of the most common crimes that initiate enrollment opportunities for military servants include:
Veterans Diversion Program Conditions for Enrolled Military Members in NJ
While completing the program, the veteran or service member must agree in writing not to be involved in crime and to work with their case manager to perform all that is required in the program. They must attend treatment programs, submit to counseling, follow the treatment plan, consume no alcohol or illegal substances, possess no firearms, pay fines, fees, or restitution ordered by the court, stay away from the victim, and satisfy other orders or contingencies for being enrolled in the program. The program typically runs from six to twenty-four months, determined by the particulars of each case, specifically, the severity of the crime and other hardship circumstances. During the program, periodic reports on the veteran’s progress are sent to the supervising officer, and the participant must appear at a compliance hearing to review their progress. At the six-month mark and after a case review, a member may be released early from the program if they have completed all program requirements.
What Happens if You Successfully Complete Veterans Diversion Probation in New Jersey?
After completing all program requirements, the veteran has no criminal record since the court dismisses the charges after the probation period is over. A graduate of the program can later petition to get all evidence of the crime expunged from their criminal record, such as the arrest and original charges if a supervisorial officer does not request the court do so beforehand.
Looking for a Criminal Lawyer for Veteran and Military Service Member Defense in Toms River NJ
If you are wondering if you may be eligible for the Veterans Diversion program, check with a local Ocean County criminal defense attorney at Proetta & Oliver. With a hefty background defending military service members in New Jersey, we encourage you to call our lawyer anytime to find out how to successfully apply for the Veterans Diversion Program and determine whether or not you can use the program for your benefit. Since a criminal record can limit your future prospects in a multitude of ways, you want to take advantage of the benefits of a program designed for your needs. You deserve what the program offers for your dedicated service to your country, whether you have been charged with a fourth or third degree crime or a petty or disorderly persons offense.
You can get the help you need to get you through a tough time, and a clear criminal record may help you improve your prospects with work, housing, and maintaining your stake in the community. Call a criminal defense attorney on our team at (848) 238-2100 to discover the best option for your situation.
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. All major credit cards are accepted.