I currently have a client charged with evading arrest and DUI in the San Fernando Courthouse of Los Angeles County. He also has a 20 year old strike prior from a previous alcohol-related driving incident. In fact, is entire criminal history involves alcohol use or abuse. According to my client, he has been abusing alcohol since he was 18 years old. This was the time he enlisted in the Navy. He served in a combat zone in Viet Nam and was honorably discharged shortly after the war ended. While in the Navy he was trained in aviation electronics and has worked for some 30 plus years has an electrician since his discharge.
Fast-forward thirty years and we have an honorably dischrched military vet who is a functioning alcoholic. This is to say that he has been supporting himself as an electrician for his entire adult life, but he has been abusing alcohol for this entire period too.
The problem comes in when he goes out to the VFW withhis girl-friend to have some drinks. He realizes he is out of cigarettes and decides to drive to get some. A police officer attempts to pull him over for a traffic violation and he does the unexpected: He drives away at a high rate of speed causeing a traffic collision. His truck rolls over multiple times and he gets out and still attempts to run from the police officers. The officers take him into custody after a brief struggle and charge my client with a second strike evading arrest where he is facing over seven years in prison.
After bailing out of jail, my client did the smartest thing that a man in his position could do: He got sober. He has been sober for over ten months now. He has a sponsor through Alcoholics Anonymous (see www.aa.org ) and has been attended meeting, nearly daily, since getting out of jail. But that's not all the good news.
Luckily for my client, the Veterans's court in Los Angeles is now accepting tranfers in from other courthouses. If a defendant is lucky enough to get into the Veteran's Court, they get probationary sentences with treatment provided at no cost through the Veteran's Administration. They also get court supervision from one of the finest judges in the county, Michael Tynan, not to mention a hard working staff including a deputy district attorney, public defenders and Veterans Affairs representatives.
In this case, after getting the approval of the District Attorney in my home court, his office supervisor, the approval of our judge, the approval of the Veterans court DA and her office supervisor and the recommendation of the Veteran's Affairs representative that staffs the Vet court, my client was approved for transfer to Vet court on Friday. He pled no contest to the charge and the District Attorney agreed to strike his strike so his case could be tranferred to the Vet Court. We are set for sentencing in about two weeks. My client will likely be placed on very formal probation with many obligations to the court and the VA. he will have regular progress reports in court and have to participate in the approved Veteran's Affairs counseling programs that have been selected for him. He may have to do alcohol treatment, self-help meetings, psychological counseling and, of course, attend court hearings. However, he may never have to serve a day in jail. And, when the probation period is over, he will likely have his conviction expunged.
Here is a brief update on my client, "DS". He was accepted by the Veteran's Court and has entered a plea to one felony charge. His strike has been "stricken" by the court and he has been ordered to comply with the treatment recommendations of the Veteran's Administration. He is doing very well in his program and does have to attend outpatient treatment through the VA. He also has period court appearances in front of Judge Michael Tynan who supervises the Veteran's Court. It looks as if DS will not have to serve a day in jail and he has been sober for over a year now. Congratulations DS and congratulations to the Los Angeles Superior Court and Judge Michael Tynan for putting together a fantastic program.
If you have questions about the Veteran's Court in Los Angeles or any other cirminal defense matter:
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