On February 15, 2017, the Johnson County Veterans Treatment Court honored its first graduate from the program. The Johnson County Veterans Treatment Court was launched in January 2016. It is the first program of its type in Kansas. This specialty court began in Buffalo, New York, in 2008. There are now more than 250 veterans treatment courts in 40 states nationwide. The majority of participants in the Johnson County court are veterans who served as active duty from the post 9/11 wars.
The Veterans Treatment Court in Johnson County offers two alternatives to a jail sentence. The first alternative is a diversion track, which is administered through the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office. The second alternative is a probation track, which is administered through the Johnson County Court Services. Each track is available to veterans who (1) Johnson County residents and (2) eligible for benefits at the Veterans Administration or Johnson County Mental Health Center. Individuals who are charged with crimes that are misdemeanors or lower level felonies can participate in this voluntary 12 to 18-month treatment program. The types of offenses that are most commonly considered for the program are driving under the influence (DUI), misdemeanor and felony drug charges, weapons charges, and charges involving domestic violence.
Veterans Treatment Court strives to assist veterans who may be suffering from traumatic brain injuries, depression, substance abuse, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Courts have acknowledged that individuals with a service-related injury such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries benefit from structured, intensive treatment rather than incarceration. Participants must attend regular court hearings, submit to drug and alcohol screenings, report to a probation officer, and attend appropriate therapy to successfully graduate from Veterans Treatment Court. Participants are also paired with a volunteer veteran mentor in the community for additional support. Depending on which track the veteran is assigned, successful completion of the program can result in dismissal of criminal charges or avoiding a jail penalty.
Dionne Scherff, of our Overland Park office (913-948-9490), has represented veterans facing criminal charges in Johnson County. She can assess whether Veterans Treatment Court may be an option for you, and assist in the navigating through the process.
Whether or not you are eligible for this program, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to evaluate the prosecution’s case against you and identify a favorable path tailored to your circumstances. With offices in Wichita, Topeka, Lawrence, and the Kansas City area, Joseph, Hollander & Craft’s criminal defense team has the knowledge and experience you need.