What is Veterans’ Court?
Some courts offer a program available to veterans called veterans court. The concept is that veterans may have had experiences or life situations that contributed in some way to the charge(s) filed against them. Veterans court seeks to address any underlying issues, such as medical conditions, unemployment, lack of education, homelessness, mental health or substance abuse. Veterans’ court can also expedite access to veteran-specific resources.
In our opinion, veterans court seems to be geared more towards rehabilitation and reducing recidivism, rather than simply punishing the defendant for committing a crime. In many cases, there is a better opportunity to avoid the criminal charge through a diversion program in veterans court than in standard court.
If a defendant goes to veterans court, the defendant will be participating in some sort of educational program, counseling, or in some cases even inpatient treatment is possible.
Who Is Eligible for Veterans’ Court?
Individuals who are on active duty or who have served in the military, regardless of discharge, are eligible to participate in veterans’ court. If a defendant was dishonorably discharged or is otherwise ineligible for services through the Veteran’s Affairs, the defendant would have to pay out of pocket for any classes, counseling or treatment.
Depending on the specific facts of a case and the defendant’s criminal history, the prosecutor can prevent a defendant from participating in veterans’ court.
What Courts Offer a Veterans’ Court?
Several courts in Maricopa County have their own veterans’ courts:
- Phoenix Municipal Court Veterans Court
- Mesa Municipal Court
- Maricopa County Superior Court (limited to probation)
- Glendale Municipal Court (New for 2021)
- Maricopa County Justice Courts (New for 2021)
Others participate in the East Valley Regional Veterans’ Court, which operates out of the Tempe Municipal Court:
- Chandler Municipal Court
- Carefree – Cave Creek Consolidated Court
- Fountain Hills Municipal Court
- Gilbert Municipal Court
- Paradise Valley Municipal Court
- Scottsdale City Court
- Tempe Municipal Court
There are also some veterans’ courts outside of Maricopa County: