Veterans Court in Arizona
Some courts in the state of Arizona provide specialty court programs, known as Veterans Court, to help military veterans who are in, or entering, the criminal justice system. Typically, participants suffer from issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, anger issues, alcohol abuse, or drug abuse.
Veterans who have returned from active military service often have increased amounts of service-related trauma that leads to issues such as substance abuse, suicide, and incarceration. Veterans Court unites the forces of attorneys, court staff, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and other relevant organizations to help veterans to instead become positive members of their community.
Once in the program, veterans will follow supervised treatment plans to rehabilitate them in their underlying issues in order to allow them to rejoin their community in a fruitful way rather than spending their time incarcerated.
How to Enter Veterans Court
Veterans Court is an optional specialty program. Veterans in the criminal system must request placement into the program and can only participate voluntarily. Courts will consider aspects such as the criminal charges involved, the veteran’s criminal history, probation recommendations, current plea agreements, and the willingness of the veteran before choosing to accept them into Veterans Court.
Not all courts offer Veterans Court. Individuals who have been charged in a court that does not offer this program will not be able to request admittance.
Each Veterans Court follows their own set of operational guidelines, which can vary from court to court. Veterans who do not comply with the requirements of the Veterans Court in which they are participating can be removed from the program and returned to the standard criminal justice system.
Any veteran with a criminal charge should contact their court to find out if there is a Veterans Court option and, if so, how they may request to join in the program.
Veterans Court Locations
Veterans Court is offered in the following locations within Arizona:
This court collaborates with Chandler Municipal Court, Carefree-Cave Creek Consolidated Court, Fountain Hills Municipal Court, Gilbert Municipal Court, Paradise Valley Municipal Court, Scottsdale City Court, and Tempe Municipal Court.
They hold a weekly problem-solving program, expedite access to veteran resources, and provide VA treatment.
This court collaborates with multiple agencies to work with veterans on probation who are considered to be “high-risk.”
This court provides rigorous rehabilitation by working with the Northern Arizona Veteran’s Administration Health Care System. Veterans are monitored by the Adult Probation department.
This court, referred to as a “treatment court,” is available to local veterans who have treatment needs that have been demonstrated to be treatable, such addiction, mental illness, and PTSD. Eligible individuals will be identified during their arraignment through the municipal court.
In addition to offering problem-solving court to promote sobriety and stable recovery, the court also offers a mentor program that allows participants to work with specially trained veterans as they go through the program.
This court was established in 2015 to give veterans a second chance at serving their country by offering treatment, rather than incarceration, for mental health and substance abuse struggles. Alongside a Veterans Justice Center Outreach Coordinator, veterans go through treatment programs that may ultimately result in their charges being dismissed or reduced.
The court offers a mentor program with specially trained veterans and also hosts a monthly Veterans Resource Team luncheon.
This court is an intensive outpatient program involving counseling, outside court activity, and participation in court classes, meetings, and hearings. The program lasts from six to eighteen months before graduation in front of the Justice Involved Veterans. It is designed to provide for successful community reengagement.
In conjunction with the Mesa Prosecutor’s Office, this court takes an interdisciplinary, therapeutic approach to its participants in order to address issues and struggles unique to military veterans.
This court targets veterans with treatable behavioral issues, such as domestic violence, substance abuse, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury. Veterans interested in joining the program must have their case screened by the defense attorney and the prosecutor, along with undergoing a Veterans Administration eligibility assessment, before being admitted.
This program establishes accountability for each participant and ensures that they work with treatment programs specific to their needs for the most effective outcome.
This court works through Tucson City Court and the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System to rehabilitate veterans charged with misdemeanors and direct them away from incarceration. Those found to be eligible through a screening process must attend one of two monthly Veterans Court sessions. They will then be sent to the VA and set up with a treatment plan, for which they will be seen monthly. Successful completion allows for a dismissal of charges.
Considered a problem-solving court, this court is diversionary and works together with the VA to offer treatment services instead of incarceration. Participants will be offered VA services at no cost.
This court is designed for medium and high-risk veterans on probation and lasts for eighteen months. Participants can expect to attend court hearings, undergo urinalysis, follow a curfew, and abide by sanctions or incentives. It also assists in veterans finding housing, employment, and appropriate healthcare.
The goal of this court is to identify veterans in the criminal justice system and connect them with Veterans Administration services. This court recognizes that veterans often find it difficult to admit to having mental health issues as a result of war trauma. The court is available to veterans with misdemeanor charges within La Paz County, working with the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) as well.
Participants can be removed from the program for noncompliance, additional criminal charges, dishonesty, violence, and lack of cooperation.
The program typically includes 1.5 years of probation with nine months of Veterans Court, outpatient counseling, random drug testing, and a Veteran Mentor Program.
Multiple courts within Maricopa County’s justice court system offer Veterans Courts. These courts aim to treat each veteran with dignity in order to help them overcome their challenges. Every justice court within Maricopa County can refer veterans charged with misdemeanors to one of the following Veterans Courts:
- Northwest Veterans Treatment Court at the Manistee Justice Court – Surprise, AZ
- Northeast Veterans Treatment Court at the McDowell Mountain Justice Court – Phoenix, AZ
- Central/Downtown Veterans Treatment Court at the Encanto Justice Court – Downtown Phoenix, AZ
- Southeast Veterans Treatment Court at the Highland Justice Court – Mesa, AZ
Veterans who have been charged with certain violations through the U.S. District Court are eligible for this federal Veterans Court. Participants can gain acceptance through a diversion or deferred sentence from the U.S. Pretrial Services or through U.S. Probation/Supervised Release.
Court hearings are held monthly in coordination with U.S. Attorney’s Office, federal public defenders and attorneys, the Veterans’ Justice Outreach Coordinator, the VA, and Veteran Mentors. Each veteran will have their own unique challenges and obstacles identified in order to receive the most appropriate treatment and support.
Those who successfully complete the program may have their charges dismissed or reduced.
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