Deferred Prosecution for Veterans - Criminal Defense

The term “justice-involved veterans” describes former service members who are on the wrong side of a criminal investigation or criminal charges. Often, a criminal proceeding against a veteran has underlying connections to some sort of service-related disability. For example, post-traumatic stress disorder, heightened anxiety, and substance abuse can lead a veteran to commit an offense that, but-for their service-related disorder, they would not have. Further, a lack of community support and poverty can make it difficult for veterans to obtain proper legal representation. The impact of these issues has created a heightened level of justice-involved veterans. And, with the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan, those numbers could rise quickly. In fact, about 9 percent of Veterans and service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been arrested since returning home.

Minnesota has taken a proactive approach to mitigating the number of justice-involved veterans. Just last year, the Minnesota Legislature passed a new statute providing alternate forms of justice for veterans. The statute allows veterans to avoid a conviction after they have been found guilty in a trial or have entered a plea of guilty. This process is different than a typical non-conviction plea – where the agreement must be made with the State before a trial. In every sense of the term, this gives a veteran two bites of the apple in a criminal proceeding; as a veteran can challenge the evidence in an open Court with a jury of peers, be found guilty, and still avoid a conviction thereafter.

Here is the kicker, a non-conviction outcome requires that certain conditions are shown by the veteran. The veteran must show, through clear and convincing evidence, that: (1) the veteran suffers from an applicable condition; (2) the condition stems from service in the United States Military; and (3) the offense was committed as a result of the applicable condition. After these three elements are shown, the Court can place the veteran under a probationary period to the Court. This will accompany different forms of treatment, counseling, and assessments. Which, most assuredly, will provide necessary help to veterans in leu of ineffective imprisonment.

While this provision has an obvious, positive, and real-world impact on justice-involved veterans, that does not mean that the process is easy. Proving that a veteran qualifies under this new statute requires an in-depth look at all the evidence and well thought out arguments to the Court. Here at North Star Criminal Defense, our seasoned Attorneys are trained, prepared, dedicated to helping our veterans through the criminal justice system. If you or a loved one are charged with a crime, please contact us for a free consultation.