The mission of the Seminole County Veterans Treatment Drug Court is to provide an inter-agency, collaborative, non-adversarial therapeutic justice program for Veterans in the criminal justice system who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Military Sexual Trauma, mental health and substance abuse symptoms as a result of having served in a combat theater and aims to regain their wholeness within the country they have defended.
Seminole County established our pilot Veterans Treatment Court in 2012 with Seminole County Judge John L. Woodard, III presiding. The program was started to quickly identify all Veterans involved in the criminal justice system and divert eligible cases to a non-adversarial treatment-based system with the goal of restoring their good standing in the community and dismissing their criminal cases.
- Promote public safety.
- Reduce criminal recidivism and its associated costs to the citizens of Seminole County.
- Assist and support criminal justice involved Veterans through a coordinated system of court appearances, treatment, community supervision and mentoring to ensure compliance with treatment and other court ordered conditions.
- Integrate community based and Veteran’s Administration treatment programs for our Veterans.
- Ensure all Veterans’ benefits and services are fully accessible by our Veterans.
- Assist our Veterans in restoring core military values into their daily routine.
The Veteran must have served in the United States Armed Forces and be eligible to receive services through the Veteran’s Administration.
- Most non-violent and non-traffic related third degree felony and misdemeanor cases are eligible for admission into Veteran’s Court.
- All Victims must agree to resolution of a case through Veterans’ Court.
- All restitution due must be paid during the period of Veteran’s participation in Veteran’s Court unless waived by the Victim.
- Upon agreement of the State Attorney and Victim(s), Domestic Violence cases may be eligible for the program. If accepted, all previously imposed conditions of bond will remain in effect as part of the program.
- Upon agreement of the State Attorney and Officer(s) Battery upon a Law Enforcement Officer, Resisting With Violence and Resisting Without Violence may be eligible for the program.
- Upon agreement of the State Attorney, other non-traffic charges may be considered for acceptance.
- Traffic offenses, including DUI, are eligible. Minor misdemeanor (DUI) traffic offenses arising from the same incident will not disqualify a Veteran from participation in the program on the primary non-traffic charge(s).
- Drug charges involving the distribution, sale or delivery of controlled substances are not eligible.
- Veterans with prior convictions for sale or delivery of controlled substances, violent felonies or more than one violent misdemeanor are not eligible.
Many returning Veterans suffer from not only physical injuries, but also the mental scars of war including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression and substance abuse. Many times these factors are the primary reason our Veterans become involved in the criminal justice system. Local Veterans have volunteered to help their peers through the Veterans’ Court process by becoming mentors.
The Seminole County Veterans Treatment Court Mentor Program provides peer-to-peer confidential support and assistance by Veterans to our criminal justice system involved Veterans. Our mentors will help our Veterans readjust to civilian life, introduce them to various Veterans’ organizations, help them to connect with treatment providers, and assist them in navigating the VA system.
Participants are recommended for graduation when they have met all Veterans Treatment Court requirements. The program team will meet to consider the merits of the recommendation to graduate and must agree that the participant has sufficiently integrated the necessary information to support long-term recovery. Graduation requests will be tentatively approved pending the adherence to Veterans Treatment Court requirements through the date and time of the graduation ceremony including the payment of all required treatment court fees and restitution, if any. Veterans entering the program are required to enter a plea and their sentences are deferred until the completion of the program. Upon entering the program each individual is placed under the supervision of the Seminole County Probation Office in order to monitor them while in the program. Once completion has taken place, the plea is withdrawn and the charges are Nolle Prossed by the State Attorney, which states that they are essentially, dismissed.
All Veterans Treatment Court participants are encouraged to attend and the graduation ceremony is open to the public. The graduates are invited to speak about their Veterans Treatment Court experience and to offer encouragement to those in attendance. Certificates of Completion or other tokens of appreciation may be handed out during the ceremony.
For additional information, please contact:
Problem Solving Courts Manager
Seminole County, Florida
101 Eslinger Way
Sanford, Florida 32773