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Drug court for veterans open for business

Posted on May 03, 2011 3:00 AM EST

A new program designed to assist military veterans with drug addictions has officially opened its doors. The new venue is referred to as Veteran's Court and is brand new to Miami-Dade County. Miami criminal attorneys have used the drug court as a way to get help for their clients and to ensure that after successfully completing the program getting their clients charges dismissed. The standard drug court program allows defendants with simple drug possession charges to enroll in the court and receive drug treatment from local drug addiction facilities. Bear in mind that all defendants charged with simple drug offenses are not always eligible to enroll. Defendants with certain priors, such as burglary and robbery will not be allowed into the program.

The new Veteran's Court will get services from count rehabilitation facilities, but also from the Department of Veteran Affairs. The use of Veteran's Court has gained traction around the country. It allows for defendants that are veterans to avoid jail or criminal records by undergoing intensive court monitored drug rehabilitation programs. The program also assists veteran in obtaining financials grants allowing them to continue and complete their education. Military lawyers are happy that veterans are getting additional benefits for their time in service. The Veteran's Court is presided over by the same judge who presides over drug court. Currently, there are ten veterans enrolled in Miami-Dade County. The justice system is looking to have at least 100 enrolled in the program at any given time.

The Veteran's Court in Miami is the 69th such court created in 24 states around the country. The first of its type opened its doors in Buffalo, New York. The court was created because of the increasing number of veterans returning from the Middle East with drug addiction problems. The number of veterans being charged with cocaine possession, marijuana possession and heroin possession was increasing at an alarming rate. These statistics led to the creation of the program. Like drug court, veterans charged with minor possession or purchase drug offenses are eligible, as long as they do not have extensive prior criminal histories or have been previously convicted of violent crimes.

Anyone enrolled in the drug court program, or the newly created off-shoot should be aware that completing the program is no easy task. Outpatient rehabilitation and multi-weekly narcotics anonymous classes are required. Defendants who render positive urine tests may find themselves behind bars for at least a couple of days. This makes drug court much more intensive than any form of probation that results from accepting a plea. In Miami, first-time offenders charged with a simple drug offense will usually be offered "credit time served". Bear in mind, the extra effort of the drug court program will allow a defendant's charges to be dismissed, which will further allow him or her to expunge the criminal record. An additional plus is that a defendant can kick his or her drug addiction, thus preventing a return to criminal court.

Miami-Dade Starts Specialized Drug Court for Military Veterans, Miami Herald.com, May 2, 2011.
Categories: Drug Offenses