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What role do veterans courts have in the criminal justice system?

Navigating through the criminal justice system is difficult for many people. For veterans who have experienced the horrors that come with service, the difficulty is even greater.

Veterans courts aren't a commonplace solution in the United States, but there are some in Arkansas that can help veterans with all sorts of different legal problems. There are many different considerations that come into the picture with these programs, so people who are wondering about them must decide if they will be able to comply with the requirements if they are accepted into the program.

Who can enter into these programs?

The conditions vary from one program to another, but having served in the military is one requirement. In Craighead County, a veteran's program accepted vets who had served multiple enlistments or at least 10 years. There are also requirements for the type of discharge the person had and the criminal charge the person is facing. In some cases, the participants must have a condition like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or substance abuse to enter.

What are some of the conditions of the programs?

The conditions of the program vary according to the charge the person is facing. Because driving drunk and drug charges are common in this program, there are requirements for treatment and alcohol or drug testing. Many of these programs use a method similar to probation. The term of the program also varies, but most last at least 18 months.

Do they have a good success rate?

Overall, it doesn't seem like veterans courts have a good success rate. The court in Jonesboro noted that 18 out of 21 participants didn't successfully complete the program. Many chose to leave the program to deal with time in jail since the conditions of the program are so strict.

Ultimately, you need to determine if you qualify for this program. If you do, consider the conditions to decide if you will be able to abide by them. Always remember that you do have other options to look into.

Source: Law for Veterans, "Veterans Court," accessed Dec. 12, 2017

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