Veteran’s Court Can be a Fantastic Option
I had a client graduate from Veteran’s Court this past Thursday. It was a very long road for him and for me, but it was very much worth the trip. My client LH was charged with felony vandalism. This was not is first criminal charge or conviction. It was not even his second. But it was his first felony. After 13 years in the Air Force reserves, including some time in active service in Afghanistan, LH wanted to stay in the service and retire from the reserves. A felony conviction would have meant the end of his military career.
I worked LH’s case harder than any case I have worked in a long time. This case was not the oldest case I’ve ever had, but it was in the top three. But in the end, the work, the wait, the time, the effort all paid off. LH graduated from Vet court, and got his case dismissed, fines waived, no jail, and is still an active reserve airman.
At first, the district attorney wanted LH to plead guilty to the felony, and to let the judge reduce the charge to a misdemeanor at the time of sentencing. This doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Remember, the federal government doesn’t care about expungements, or later reductions or other things that the state court finds significant. If LH pled guilty to the felony he would have been kicked out of the military, even if the case was ultimately reduced to a misdemeanor.
I had to convince the district attorney to reduce the case first, before the plea. I had to convince the district attorney to allow my client to get into Veteran’s Court. I had to convince the district attorney that my client’s prior diagnosis of PTSD, along with alcohol consumption were the reasons that LH took a baseball bat to that car and did so much damage it was a total loss. I had to convince the DA that Vet Court was the right solution to this problem, even though my client had been on probation twice before. I had to convince the DA that this time was different…and I did.
Ultimately, LH plead guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to Veteran’s Court probation. He was ordered to continue the counseling which he was already attending, and to cooperate with probation, the Veteran’s Administration and to obey all laws. He did have to pay for the damage to the car, but otherwise he simply had to obey all laws, and he did. He completed over one year of Veteran’s Administration therapy, stayed out of trouble and paid for the damage to the car.
LH’s case was dismissed Thursday. His fines were waived. He didn’t serve a day in jail and he completed his court of therapy with the Veteran’s Administration. He continues to serve as a reserve airman in the United States Airforce, based out of Port Hueneme. He hopes to retire form the reserve service in the future, and I believe he will. In the meantime he works in the music business as a DJ, recording engineer and doing production. If called upon to reactivate, I’m certain LH will do his duty honorably, as he has done in the past, serving as a prison guard, corpsman, cook and anything else that has been asked of him in his tenure as an airman.
If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with a crime, call a veteran criminal defense attorney with the experience to get the job done right. Call me:
Attorney Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-5700 or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my sites: 4cirminaldefense.com or westlakecriminaldefense.com
Free case evaluations. Please ask me about your options.