How veterans are supervised?
Veterans Treatment Intervention (VTI) is a form of supervision offered only at a Veterans Court. It is a diversionary program designed to allow qualified Veterans an opportunity to avoid the trial process and, upon successful completion, their charges are dismissed by the Court. VTI is modeled after other successful diversionary programs currently in use such as Pretrial Intervention (PTI) and Drug Court. Both VTI and PTI can be utilized for both felony and misdemeanor cases. In addition to VTI and PTI, Veterans Court also utilizes other common forms of supervision such as Misdemeanor Probation, Felony Probation, and Community Control.
VTI was created by the Florida Legislature in 2012. FS 948.08 defines Pretrial Intervention. VTI was added to the PTI statute so it is important to understand PTI first. FS 948.08 states:
Any first offender, or any person not previously convicted of not more than one non-violent misdemeanor, who is charged with any misdemeanor or felony of the third degree is eligible for release to the pretrial intervention program on the approval of the administrator of the program and the consent of the victim, the state attorney, and the judge who presided at the initial appearance hearing of the offender. However, the defendant may not be released to the pretrial intervention program unless, after consulting with his or her attorney, he or she has voluntarily agreed to such program and has knowingly and intelligently waived his or her right to a speedy trial for the period of his or her diversion. The defendant or the defendant's immediate family may not personally contact the victim or victim's immediate family to acquire the victim's consent under this section.
Simply put, to qualify for the PTI Program the defendant can only be charged with a 3rd Degree felony and/or a misdemeanor. The defendant can't have ANY felony convictions and not more than ONE NON-VIOLENT misdemeanor conviction on their arrest record. Remember, your arrest record includes any convictions in other states too. It is very important to understand that PTI must be offered to you by the State Attorney's Office. Just because you qualify under this statute for PTI does not guarantee you will receive PTI. Another thing to remember, the State Attorney's Office will not offer PTI for any sex offenses. Once you successfully complete PTI, the State Attorney's Office will Nolle Prosse your case (drop the charges).
VTI was added as FS 948.08(7)(a) and reads as follows:
(7)(a) Notwithstanding any provision of this section, a person who is charged with a felony, other than a felony listed in s. 948.06(8)(c), and identified as a veteran, as defined in s. 1.01, or service member, as defined in s. 250.01, who suffers from a military service-related mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder, or psychological problem, is eligible for voluntary admission into a pretrial veterans' treatment intervention program approved by the chief judge of the circuit, upon motion of either party or the court's own motion, except:
1.If a defendant was previously offered admission to a pretrial veterans' treatment intervention program at any time before trial and the defendant rejected that offer on the record, the court may deny the defendant's admission to such a program.
2.If the defendant previously entered a court-ordered veterans' treatment program, the court may deny the defendant's admission into the pretrial veterans' treatment program. (b) While enrolled in a pretrial intervention program authorized by this subsection, the participant shall be subject to a coordinated strategy developed by the veterans' treatment intervention team. The coordinated strategy should be modeled after therapeutic jurisprudence principles and key components in s. 397.334(4), with treatment specific to the needs of service members and veterans. The coordinated strategy may include a protocol of sanctions that may be imposed upon the participant for noncompliance with program rules. The protocol of sanctions may include, but need not be limited to, placement in a treatment program offered by a licensed service provider or in a jail based treatment program or serving a period of incarceration within the time limits established for contempt of court. The coordinated strategy must be provided in writing to the participant before the participant agrees to enter the pretrial veterans' treatment intervention program or other pretrial intervention program. Any person whose charges are dismissed after successful completion of the pretrial veterans' treatment intervention program, if otherwise eligible, may have his or her arrest record to the dismissed charges expunged under s. 943.0585.
"It appears the Legislature carved out a specific treatment route for those veterans who, by virtue of their service to this country, have sustained various traumatic injuries or suffer substance abuse or psychological problems. I think the use of the phrase, "veterans treatment intervention program" rather than "pretrial intervention program" as used in subsection (2), further evidences the legislative intent to create a separate option for specific class of veterans subject to the limitations of section 948.06(8)(c) and the two exceptions outlined in subsections (7)(a)1. And (7)(a)2."
Again, to state it simply, VTI was created specifically for qualified Veterans. However, the qualifications for VTI are different from PTI in that, if you are a qualified Veteran, and you are not charged with a forcible felony, which are listed in FS 948.06(8)(c), you shall qualify for the VTI Program. Prior felony or misdemeanor convictions do not automatically disqualify you. Again, remember, just because you qualify does not mean the Court will offer it to you. An extensive conviction record, habitual offender or "career criminal" may not be offered VTI Program. There are charges that have "minimum mandatory" sentences attached to them and the Court can't offer you VTI. And, like PTI, sex offenses will not be offered VTI. Once you successfully complete VTI, the Court will dismiss your case.
In the event you do not get offered VTI or PTI, you may be offered probation and /or community control. Much depends on your background and your current offense. Your attorney will review all options with you well before anything is decided. In addition, the entire Veterans Treatment Intervention Team reviews your case, your background, your current medical or psychological needs, your military service and all possible offers with your attorney before anything is decided.