Collin County Veterans’ Court

By Allen, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Kyle T. Therrian
Office Number: (972) 562-7549
24 Hr Jail Release: (214) 403-6522

There will soon be a new option for veterans in Collin County charged with a criminal offense. At the request of Judge John Roach, Jr., and through the support of the District Attorney’s Office, the Collin County Commissioners approved the creation of the Collin County Veterans’ Court last week. Collin County will now join the ranks of other major Texas counties which give an alternative to prosecution for men and women who served our country in combat roles.

What is a Veteran’s Court?

Veteran’s court is an alternative to the normal prosecution of criminal offenses–a “diversion program.” Counties certainly vary in administration of veterans’ courts, but looking at Article 617 of the Health and Safety Code, the Collin County Veteran’s Court must incorporate the following characteristics, at a minimum:

  • The integration of services in the processing of cases in the judicial system;
  • The use of nonadversarial approach to involving prosecutors and defense attorneys to promote public safety and to protect the due process rights of program participants;
  • Early identification and prompt placement of eligible participants in the program;
  • Access to a continuum of alcohol, controlled substance, mental health, and other related treatment and rehabilitative services;
  • Careful monitoring of treatment and services provided to program participants;
  • A coordinated strategy to govern program responses to participants’ compliance;
  • Ongoing judicial interaction with program participants;
  • Monitoring and evaluation of program goals and effectiveness;
  • Continuing interdisciplinary education to promote effective program planning, implementation, and operations; and
  • Development of partnerships with public agencies and community organizations, including the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

While the County has yet to publish the “handbook” on how their program will be implemented, prospective participants can look to other veteran’s courts across the state as well as other existing Collin County diversion courts such as the DWI/Drug. If the Collin County veteran’s court bears any resemblance to its sisters, participants can expect heavily court supervised treatment which requires an intensive time commitment by participants including numerous weekly appointments in court and with treatment providers. We can also expect graduated consequences for violations of program rules, consequences which could eventually result in the imposition of a hefty prison sentence. As Judge Roach Jr. explains, it will be “probation on steroids.”

Why Sign up for Veteran’s Court?

Treatment and rehabilitation are wonderful objectives and sometimes people need the structure as well as the strong-arm encouragement that a court-sponsored program can provide. But, Article 617 establishes a system which provides both a carrot and a stick. Along with the severe consequences for failure come benefits of completion that are as good as they get. Under the law, successful completion of veteran’s court will result in dismissal of the case and entitle the veteran to a complete expunction of criminal records. That means a veteran will retain his right to vote, right to carry a weapon, and most importantly, the right to deny the arrest and prosecution ever took place.

*Kyle Therrian is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice on any case you should contact an attorney directly.

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