Veterans and military members sometimes experience lingering after-effects of their time serving their country. Post-traumatic stress disorder and mental illness can occur among veterans and active duty military members. Alcoholism and drug abuse can also occur. Addiction and mental illness can, unfortunately, sometimes lead to criminal acts and criminal convictions. When a defendant is a veteran or military member who has been convicted of an offense, special allowances often must be made in recognition of the conditions which led up to the offense.
Because of the necessity of accommodating and aiding veterans and military members who committed crimes, Nevada law provides an opportunity for courts to sentence vets and active duty military members to treatment, rather than incarceration. Las Vegas Criminal Defense understands the laws which allow military members to avoid jail time and get the treatment they need, and we can provide help to military members who are on trial. Give us a call today to talk with a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer in order to find out what your options are and how you can avoid jail and get help instead.
Both veterans and active duty military members who have been convicted of certain offenses can be eligible for assignment for treatment of military members.
Member of the military is defined in N.R.S. 176A.043 as any person who is currently serving in any branch of the United States Armed Forces, including the National Guard and including a reserve branch of the Armed Forces. Veteran is defined in N.R.S. 176A.090 as a person who has previously served in any branch of the U.S. Armed forces, including reserve branches and the national guard.
Both veterans and military members could be eligible for assignment to a treatment program if they suffer from a mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug abuse, or alcohol abuse.
The statutes addressing an assignment to program for treatment of veterans and military members are found within their own subsection of Chapter 176A of Nevada’s criminal procedure code. The relevant statutes include N.R.S. 176A.280 through N.R.S. 176A.295.
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N.R.S. 176A.280 gives the court the authority to establish an appropriate treatment program that it can assign veterans and military members to. When the court establishes a treatment program and assigns veterans to it, the court has to provide for progress reports at various intervals in order to determine how the veteran or military member is progressing. The court also has to make sure that they clearly define terms and conditions for successful completion of the treatment program, in order to ensure that an assessment can actually be made.
N.R.S. 176A.285 creates the option for jurisdiction to be transferred to the district court from a justice or municipal court. Jurisdiction can be transferred when there is an eligible defendant who is a veteran or military member who hasn’t yet pled guilty, pled nolo contendere, pled guilty but mentally ill, or been found either guilty or guilty but mentally ill. The veteran or military must have been accused of committing a misdemeanor and must appear to suffer from PTSD, mental illness, drug abuse, or alcohol abuse in connection with military service, including readjustment to civilian life after being in combat. It must also appear that the defendant would benefit from commitment to a program, and the district court must approve the transfer of jurisdiction.
N.R.S. 176.290 provides more specific details on the conditions which must be met before a defendant can be transferred to a treatment program for military members, as well as on the impact of successful completion of the program.
According to the relevant law, a defendant can be transferred if he pleads guilty, nolo contendere, or guilty but mentally ill. He could also be transferred if he has been adjudicated guilty or guilty but mentally all. The transfer can occur as long as it is not prohibited by any other statute. When the court has decided a transfer is appropriate, it can– with the consent of the defendant– suspend further proceedings without entering a judgment of conviction and place the defendant on probation and make attending a treatment program a condition of that probation.
If the defendant’s offense involved the use of force or threats of force, and the defendant was previously convicted in any state of a felony involving violence or threats of force, then the court cannot assign a defendant to a treatment program without first getting consent from the prosecutor.
When I initially met with Mr. Wooldridge, he took the opportunity to sit and go over my problem with me. He described details in my case which he found disturbing and explained why he I should have him on my side.
If the defendant successfully abides by the terms and the conditions of treatment, the court can discharge the defendant and dismiss the proceedings. N.R.S. 176A.295 provides that the defendant’s records should be sealed upon successful completion of the treatment program. The defendant’s discharge and dismissal will occur without adjudication of guilt and the defendant will not be considered to have a past conviction for any public or private purposes, unless the defendant reoffends in the future. If the defendant violates the terms and conditions of treatment, however, then the court can enter a judgment of conviction and proceed as appropriate based on the rules for the crime the defendant had initially been charged with.
When a defendant has been charged with a crime and it is believed his mental state or addiction in connection with his military service had any impact on his actions, it is very important to get legal help right away. Probation conditioned on assignment to a treatment program is far better than incarceration, especially as successfully completing the program can protect the defendant from a criminal record. Criminal attorney Nicholas Wooldridge can help you try to ensure you are assigned to a treatment program when appropriate. Contact us today to talk with a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney who can provide assistance with treatment programs for military members and with all others aspects of a criminal case.