Are You a United States Veteran Facing Criminal Charges in Allegheny County?
If so, the Allegheny County Veterans Court may be an alternative to jail, as well as keep criminal charges off your permanent record.
At Ketchel Law, we believe that our men and women in uniform have provided the utmost service to their country and deserve to be treated with care and respect and find the resources they need to lead a fulfilling, positive life.
We know everyone makes mistakes, especially people who suffer from addiction or who take drugs and alcohol to cope with things like PTSD. And for those who run up against the law, the toll for one simple mistake can be heavy – not just for the person facing criminal charges, but also for their family and loved ones.
That’s why our criminal lawyers believe in second chances and helping people keep a clean record – either by fighting their criminal charges to get a full case dismissal or seeking the best alternatives for a person to move forward with their life.
In many instances, the Allegheny County Veterans Court can help people who have served dutifully in the armed forces by providing mentors, rehabilitation, counseling, and probation in lieu of jail time, if all requirements are completed. It could also mean not having a criminal record available for any potential employers or loan officers or landlords to see.
The advantages of not having a criminal record are far-reaching in so many corners of a person’s life, way into their future. That’s why our experienced criminal attorneys do all we can to help our clients keep out of jail and any criminal arrests off their records.
An arrest is not a conviction. There is always hope.
If you are facing criminal charges and would like more information on fighting those charges, contact the law office of Attorney Justin Ketchel for a free consultation. Our Pittsburgh attorneys can explain your options and help you understand the process and your rights.
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Our #1 goal is a full case dismissal.
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What is the Allegheny Veterans Court Program?
Counties across the United States have different types of Veteran Court Programs, with different requirements for completion and eligibility. Veterans Courts are specialized courts designed to provide a more effective and supportive approach to criminal justice for veterans.
The courts aim to address the unique challenges faced by veterans and to provide them with access to the resources they need to successfully reintegrate into their communities.
In Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, the Veterans Court was established in 2009 as a response to the growing number of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and other mental health issues. The court is part of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and is currently presided over by Judge John A. Zottola.
The Veterans Court program in Allegheny County is an intensive, court-supervised program that lasts for a minimum of one year. Participants are required to attend regular court sessions, submit to drug and alcohol testing, attend counseling and therapy sessions, and comply with any other conditions set by the court.
Once successfully completed, your criminal charges could be reduced or completely dismissed.
Who is Eligible for Veterans Court in Allegheny County?
The Veterans Court in Allegheny County operates on a voluntary basis and accepts both pre-trial and post-conviction cases. To be eligible for the Allegheny County Veterans Court, a person must be a veteran of the United States Armed Forces, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. This includes individuals who served in active duty, National Guard, or Reserves. According to the Veterans Outreach Program, eligibility for the Veterans Court Program requires the following:
- Individuals either have qualifying past military service for which they were not dishonorably discharged or be a current military member in good standing;
- Veterans must have qualifying charges, and either treatment needs (mental health, drug & alcohol, reintegration, etc.), or a military or combat deployment;
- The District Attorney’s Office must consent to case admission and vet the cases for victim and/or police officer consent.
While consideration for admission to Veterans Court includes a wide range of both misdemeanor and felony cases,
the individual must have been charged with a non-violent crime.
Examples of non-violent crimes may include drug offenses, DUIs, or property crimes. Individuals charged with certain types of crimes, such as sex offenses or homicide, may be ineligible for the Veterans Court program.
In addition to these eligibility requirements, the individual must be willing to participate in the Veterans Court program and comply with program requirements. This includes attending court appearances and meetings with a probation officer, participating in substance abuse or mental health treatment, and following any other conditions set by the court.
There is a referral process, which must be submitted in writing by completing a form. The form may be obtained in person at the Allegheny County Courthouse, Room 534, or by email. See the Allegheny County Veterans Court Program brochure for more information.
What are the Requirements?
To successfully complete the Veterans Court program, participants must meet certain requirements, including attending all court appearances and meetings with their probation officer. This includes appearing in court at scheduled times for hearings and following any conditions set by the court.
Participants also must complete any treatment programs required by the court. This may include substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, or other types of therapy. This includes remaining drug and alcohol-free and submitting to drug testing as required by the court.
Court participants are assigned to a Veteran Justice Outreach Specialist or a Justice Related Services Specialist, who connects and refers the veteran to treatment providers and services, and who facilitates the veteran’s compliance with
his/her service plan.
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Benefits of the Veterans Court Program
The Allegheny County Veterans Court provides several benefits to veterans who participate in the program. First, the court aims to help veterans avoid incarceration and instead receive treatment and support for any underlying issues that may have contributed to their involvement in the criminal justice system.
Once you have successfully completed the program, your criminal charges could be reduced or completely dismissed.
Veterans are also assisted with housing, health, financial benefits, and other appropriate community support services. Veterans Court also provides participating veterans with the opportunity to benefit from the assistance, support, guidance, and encouragement of a fellow veteran peer mentor. Mentors are volunteers from the Veterans Administration.
Participants in the Veterans Court are surrounded by peers who have experienced similar challenges and can relate to their struggles. This can help veterans feel understood and supported as they work to overcome their issues.
The Allegheny County Veterans Court provides a valuable service to veterans who have found themselves in the criminal justice system. By providing treatment and support, the court aims to help veterans overcome the challenges they face and successfully reintegrate into their communities.
How Ketchel Law Can Help
Our Pittsburgh Criminal Attorneys understand addiction and we understand that people are often wrongly accused. We have been successful in getting charges withdrawn and sentencing drastically reduced.
An Arrest is Not a Conviction. Our #1 goal is to help you get your charges dismissed.
Many people “get busted” and give up hope, but until you are convicted, you still have the legal right to contest the charges and fight to have them either dropped, reduced, or to have a reduction in sentencing.
The prosecution will need to prove these elements in your case. In some circumstances, it may be possible to have the evidence suppressed, which could lead to a full dismissal of your case. Our attorneys are skilled in pouring over case details and police reports in order to determine whether they have a solid case against you or if they made any missteps in their procedures. We will thoroughly investigate your case and fight your criminal charges.
Ketchel Law – 412-456-1221 – Free Consultations
OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL: HAVING YOUR CASE DISMISSED.
Talk to an experienced attorney for a free consultation about whether you may be eligible to have your record expunged and how best to fight your charges.
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