Contact Us Today (424) 372-3112

Veterans Court

Penal Code 1170.9 PC - Veterans Treatment Courts 

California Penal Code 1170.9 PC is the law that allows eligible military veterans to get treatment after a criminal conviction rather than serving time in county jail or state prison.

This law applies post-conviction to qualified veterans to receive treatment when they are eligible for parole and suffer from certain medical or mental conditions that were a result of their military service, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury.

Veterans Courts allow military veterans to get treatment rather than serving time in jail.

Suppose a veteran is qualified under PC 1170.9. In that case, the court will place them on probation and order them to a treatment program for no longer than they would have served in jail for the crime.

Veterans will successfully satisfy the probation conditions if they complete the court-ordered treatment and services and show they have benefited. If the court finds they are not a risk to the safety of others, they can dismiss the criminal case or reduce the felony case to a misdemeanor

In addition to Penal Code 1170.9 Veterans' Treatment Court, other types of jail time relief are available, such as Penal Code 1001.80 military diversion and Penal Code 1001.36 mental health diversion.

Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) are a chance for recovery for veterans dealing with PTSD, addiction, and other disorders that are directly related to their military service. VTC is often a critical lifeline for struggling veterans.

The rehabilitation program allows former military members facing criminal charges to avoid serving time in jail and a criminal record. However, veterans must first be eligible for probation and suffering from addiction or a mental illness.

What is a Veterans Treatment Court?

Simply put, a Veterans Treatment Court is an alternative sentencing program. Suppose you are struggling with mental illness or an addiction and facing criminal charges. In that case, Penal Code 1170.9 PC provides you a chance at treatment such as rehab and counseling instead of time in county jail or state prison. 

If you successfully finish Veterans Court, your criminal charges are reduced or dismissed depending on the case. If you can have your criminal case transferred to VTC, you would have treatment options rather than time in jail.

PC 1170.9 is post-conviction relief. It applies after you are found guilty or pleaded no contest (nolo contendere) to a California crime. Relief under this law is not generally available for serious violent crimes or when they involve the use of a deadly weapon or cases involving a great bodily injury defined under Penal Code 12022.7 PC

To qualify for treatment under PC 1170.9, you must be eligible for probation and meet certain medical and mental conditions. California has 33 Veterans Treatment Courts focusing on treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment. You might be able to accomplish the following:

  • Get your criminal charges dismissed.
  • Get your felony case reduced to a misdemeanor.
  • Avoid time in a county jail or state prison.
  • Get an early termination of probation.

How Does a Veterans Treatment Court Work? 

VTC is a diversionary program for eligible military veterans to avoid jail time by completing the program treatment. Its rehabilitation is designed to help a veteran less likely to commit another crime, called “recidivism.” 

Each program is designed to meet the veteran's needs based on the primary causes of their issues. The VTC program typically lasts up to 18 months and will typically include the following:

  • Treatment plans ordered by the court.
  • Substance abuse treatment.
  • Psychological evaluations.
  • Meetings with mentors and support groups.
  • Job training programs.
  • Participation in educational classes.
  • Counseling sessions.
  • Drug and alcohol testing. 

The VTC is designed to provide veterans with the necessary resources to recover and reintegrate into society. The people involved in the veteran's case typically come from the county mental health department, probation, social services, treatment providers, and veteran support organizations. 

What Are Medical and Mental Conditions?

A veteran can qualify to receive treatment if the court determines that they suffer from specific medical or mental health issues from military service, such as the following: 

  • Traumatic brain injury.
  • Sexual trauma.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Mental health disorder.

The court will often request an assessment to determine that a veteran suffers from one of the above conditions. A doctor's diagnosis is not required. The veteran typically must provide their DD-214 to prove service. Suppose you are accepted into a VTC program and fail to meet the requirements. In that case, you will be remanded back into incarceration.

What are the Benefits of VTC?

Veterans Treatment Courts offer numerous benefits for veterans with criminal charges, including the following: 

  • Access to mental health treatment,
  • Specialized treatment options,
  • Counseling and education classes,
  • Avoid time in jail and a criminal record.
  • Get your criminal case dismissed and expunged,
  • Reduce your criminal case to a lesser charge.
  • Support sessions from other veteran mentors,  
  • Reintegration into society,
  • Reduced risk of recidivism,

What Are the VTC Eligibility Requirements?

To be accepted into California Penal Code 1170.9 Veterans' Treatment Court, you must typically have to meet the following requirements:

  • Served in any military branch, such as the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, or reserves.
  • You pleaded guilty or no contest to a misdemeanor or felony crime.
  • You are eligible for a probation sentence.
  • You have symptoms of PTSD, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), sexual trauma, substance addiction, or other mental health disorders.
  • You are willing to participate in a program that could last up to 18 months.
  • You have an honorable discharge from the military, but there are exceptions if you have a disability caused by military service.

Notably, veterans who were convicted of sex crimes or gang-related activity are not eligible for consideration into the VTC. 

VTC is entirely at the discretion of the judge, who will typically offer the program to veterans who are having trouble adjusting to life as civilians. The District Attorney's Office and the courts know that mental health issues will often lead to contact with the police.

The Veterans Treatment Court can help you get treatment for mental health issues and avoid further criminal behavior.  The process to apply will vary by jurisdiction. Your California criminal defense attorney can help you determine eligibility and request the court to admit you into the program.

Notably, the court might first order a mental health assessment and evaluation. They will also typically seek recommendations from a probation officer and other specialists with veteran outreach programs. 

To get help, your criminal case must typically be transferred to the VTC by the judge presiding over your case. Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation. Cron, Israels & Stark is based in Los Angeles, CA.

Related Content:

Contact Us Today

Cron, Israels & Stark is committed to answering your questions about All Misdemeanor and Felony Crime law issues in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, California.

We offer a free consultation and we'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.