In cases where the defendant (a veteran or someone on active duty) has committed a felony, rather than a misdemeanor offense, and is ineligible for military diversion (see Military Diversion), the defendant may receive appropriate professional treatment, in lieu of serving any custody time in county jail or state prison. Also, he/she may still qualify for legal relief, such as a reduction of the felony to a misdemeanor, or even dismissal of his/her case (Penal Code section 1170.9).
Under this statute, the defendant must have been convicted or found guilty of committing a felony, while suffering from some disability, that was a result of their prior military service or while serving on active duty. The disabilities include;
- post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”)
- military sexual trauma (rape, sexual assault, etc)
- traumatic brain injury
- substance abuse
- mental health issues
The key distinction between Veteran’s Court and military diversion is that the defendant in Veteran’s Court has already been convicted, but not yet sentenced! Another distinction is that certain felony offenses will disqualify a defendant from participating in a program covered under Penal Code section 1170.9, including many sex offenses and violent crimes. However, much of the qualifying, treatment and reporting requirements between the two programs are similar. Significantly, the important thing to recognize is that not only can the client earn a reduction or a dismissal under this program, but can use his/her treatment as a substitute to serving custody time in county jail or state prison!