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Veteran's Court Information

Veteran’s Treatment Court (VTC), or simply Veteran’s Court, is a special criminal department in San Bernardino County dedicated to handling crimes committed by military veterans whose criminal conduct is related to the veteran’s military service.

The goal of Veteran’s Court is to treat the military-related causes of criminal behavior as opposed to punishing that criminal behavior. In fact, California law permits special treatment and protections for military Veterans who are charged with certain types of crimes, including crimes that tend to uniquely stem from the mental and physical stress and trauma that our military service men and women endure to protect our country.

For example, a former US Marine might suffer from combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and as result of that PTSD, the veteran becomes combative in normal non-combative social settings. If the veteran is charged with the crime of battery after he strikes another person during a PTSD-induced argument, then the veteran might be referred to Veteran’s Court for the special treatment and programs that will help the veteran deal with his or her combative behavior as it relates to his military-related PTSD. If the veteran successfully completes the rehabilitative requirements of VTC then the veteran's criminal charge of battery will be dismissed.

VTC Eligibility

Referral to VTC: In order for the defendant to be transferred to Veteran’s Court he or she must be referred to that department by the judge handling the defendant’s felony pretrial hearings. The veteran does not begin his or her criminal defense in Veteran’s Court. A referral may be granted upon request of the defendant or the defendant’s attorney if the defendant is a veteran of the United States Armed forces (National Guard, Space Force, Air Force, Marines, Army, Coast Guard, Navy, and Reserves).

PTSD & Substance Reliance: In addition to the requirement that the defendant serves, or has served, in the military, a referral to Veterans' Court requires a finding by the referring judge that the alleged crime is a crime typically related to Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or Substance Abuse Dependency. Essentially, the veteran must show that the veteran’s service-related mental or physical disability contributed to the veteran’s criminal conduct.

Disqualified: Veterans’ Treatment Court is not available for offenses that are considered serious or violent under California’s Three Strikes Law (Strike Offense), or where the defendant has previously suffered a strike conviction. In addition, CTV is not available for cases where the punishment includes registration as a sex offender pursuant to penal code 290 (i.e. lewd acts on a minor, oral copulation by force, sexual penetration by force, sodomy by force, rape, sexual battery, indecent exposure, possession of child pornography, indecent exposure, pimping, sexual assault, etc.).


Terms of VTC: Participants in Veterans’ Treatment Court will be required to comply with conditions in order to receive the benefits of his or her offer of dismissal of the criminal charges. The conditions are designed to uniquely fit the needs of the defendant; however, in most cases, the condition will include: Plead guilty to the criminal allegations, attend mandatory counseling, attend substance abuse treatment and counseling, remain free from arrests, participate in continued monitoring by the court for at least eighteen (18) months, pay restitution to victims, stay away from designated places and people (criminal protective orders), submit to random drug testing, and more.

Note: A plea of guilt and continued monitoring by the court of the defendant’s progress is required as a condition in every rehabilitative program offered in Veterans’ Court.

Dismissal of Charges: As stated, after referral to Veteran’s Court, the defendant must plead guilty to the alleged offense in order to take advantage of the services offered at Veterans’ Court. Thereafter, the judge will place conditions on the veteran. If the veteran successfully completes the conditions placed upon him by the VTC judge then the veteran may have his criminal charges dismissed. If the defendant does not successfully complete the conditions of VTC then the judge will already have the veteran’s guilty plea and the court may sentence the veteran according to a predetermined sentence.

Note: When a defendant fails to complete Veteran’s Court conditions, such as when the defendant misses required counseling meetings, the veteran might be able to request a reinstatement to the Veteran’s Court program, as opposed to being suspended from the program and sentenced according to his or her earlier plea agreement. Whether or not the VTC judge will reinstate a veteran into the VTC program is decided on a case-by-case basis.

Important: Veterans could lose VA benefits for either a conviction of certain criminal allegation, or for receipt of certain criminal sentences after a criminal conviction. It is absolutely vital to contact a criminal defense lawyers at the earliest opportunity when facing criminal allegations. A criminal defense attorney can explain to the defendant the defendant's rights, defense options, and the benefits, drawbacks, and availability of Veterans’ Treatment Court.

To learn more about Veterans Treatment Court (VTC), or defenses to crime in general, contact our criminal defense lawyers for a free case evaluation. Our criminal defense team has handled hundreds of felony and misdemeanor cases in San Bernardino County, including the specialized area of Veterans’ Court. Our attorneys are available every day of the week to assist you and review your defense options. Call today!


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