How can I participate in Veterans Court?
At some point following your arrest, you were provided several choices
- Participating in the Veterans Court Program or
- Remaining in criminal court for prosecution and sentencing on your pending charges.
If you're accepted into the Veterans Court, successful completion and graduation from the Veterans Court may result in reducing or dismissal of the pending charges or the imposition of a more favorable sentence, depending on the terms of your individual participation agreement. The amount of time you spend in the Veterans Court program will be determined by your individual progress, but it will be no less than 12 months.
Always keep in mind that removal from the Veterans Court may result in a return to criminal court or sentencing on the charge(s) to which you have been convicted.
Getting Started in Veterans Court
These are some steps you can take to help you begin this program.
- Get to know the names of all of the staff associated with the Veterans’ Court Team and keep their phone number handy.
- Know how you will travel to Court and have a back-up plan if you are relying on another person to bring you.
- Begin to organize things at home. Being organized where you reside helps you to be organized in the way you approach other areas of your life.
- If you need to help with reading or understanding any of the forms, papers, or proceedings, make sure you let us know so we can help you.
- Obtain a calendar and keep it up-to-date with your court dates, meeting dates, etc. and bring it with you to Court.
How will I be supervised in Veterans Court?
You will be required to appear in front of the Veterans Court Judge on a regular basis. The Judge will be given progress reports on you regarding your drug tests, attendance, and participation in your treatment program. These reports will come from: treatment and/or mental health counselor, case manager, your probation officer, parole officer, and the members of the Veterans Court Program with whom you are working (such as Housing Specialist, Family Advocate, etc.).
The Judge will ask you about your progress and discuss any problems you may be experiencing. During Stabilization in Phase I, you must come to court bi-weekly. As you make progress, your court appearance schedule will be reduced. If you are doing well, you will be encouraged to continue working towards the goal of graduating from Veterans Court.
You're required to arrive on time and stay until court is finished unless the Judge dismisses you earlier.
As a Veterans Court participant you are required to attend all of your scheduled treatment sessions, all of your other Veterans treatment appointments, and all of your scheduled court dates. Treatment sessions include counseling, substance abuse sessions, education sessions and all other sessions as directed by your case plan. You will be required to be on time for all sessions. If you are late, you may not be allowed to attend and may be considered absent.
Your treatment schedule will vary according to your progress. It is your responsibility to schedule all needed appointments and to arrive on time for all of them.
Drug and Alcohol Screening Attendance
One of the primary goals of Veterans Court is to help you remain abstinent from alcohol and all non-prescribed drugs. You may be tested throughout the entire program.
Toxicology tests require “direct observation.”Drug tests not witnessed are of no value and will not be accepted.
The Judge will have access to all drug test results including failures, refusals to test and tainted tests.
Drug tests are conducted at Community Corrections, during court appearances, or at any other time. You will be assigned a color and it is your responsibility to call daily and to report by the end of business day or it will be considered dirty (positive) and can result in a sanction. A positive test or admission of alcohol or other drug use will not disqualify you but may result in a sanction or change in treatment planning.
If the specimen appears to be “diluted” as a result of excessive amounts of fluid ingested, you can be sanctioned. Substituting or altering your specimen or trying in any way to modify bodily fluids for the purpose of changing the drug testing results will be considered positive and a sanction will be implemented.
You will be required to voluntarily report all drug or alcohol use to the Judge at each court appearance. REMEMBER: BE UPFRONT AND HONEST Repeated substance use will result in a sanction that may include jail, a higher level of care and or both. Failure to report drug or alcohol use will result in a jail sanction. Any drugs that a doctor prescribes for you must be reported to your Case Manager. You may want to consider informing your doctor that you are in recovery and are not able to take narcotics.
Release of Information: All members of the Veterans Court must be able to communicate with your treatment providers about your eligibility and progress in the program. Upon entry into Veterans Court, you will be required to sign “releases of information” to allow this to happen. You must also sign additional releases as needed to arrange further treatment, counseling, or support service referrals.
Confidentiality: State and federal laws require strict confidentiality regarding issues related to substance abuse and treatment. In response to these regulations, the Veterans Court has policies and procedures that guard your privacy. You will be asked to sign consent forms for the various agencies and staff working on your team to communicate with one another. We will not agree to keep any information secret from the Judge or another Veterans Court team member. You are not to share the names of any other treatment court participants, nor any information they disclose. This is true also of others you meet in treatment or in self-help/support groups. You may share Court reports or documents or information about your own personal treatment with family.
Participation Agreement: All Veterans Court participants will be required to sign a Participation Agreement in court. Each Participation Agreement is written specifically for the individual participant based on the person’s current charges, situation, and prior criminal and/or treatment history. Your agreement may require more. Before you sign your agreement, you will have an opportunity to review the agreement with your defense attorney and have your questions answered.
Recovery and Treatment Planning
YOU, the Veterans Court team, and your treatment providers will develop plans to fit your specific needs. The plan will specifically address your substance abuse problem or mental health problem, life issues such as education, vocational training, parenting and family skills. The plan will be strength based and will serve as a guide or roadmap during your participation in the program.
It is important to remember that treatment will work if you work your treatment plan.
Graduate and Live a Healthy Lifestyle
The final decision about your readiness to graduate will be made by the Veterans Court Team. Your Case Manager will let you know when the Veterans Court Team and Judge have decided that you are eligible for graduation. You must then complete your Graduation essay and submit it as directed.
Your graduation from Veterans Court is a time to celebrate your transition to a healthy lifestyle. It does not mean the end of working hard is over. Your recovery, managing your own care and staying sober is a life-long pursuit. You will be able to invite your family and friends to join you at your Veterans Court graduation Ceremony. This special event is in recognition of your accomplishments and marks the beginning of your new way of life. At your graduation you will be encouraged to maintain ties with the staff and other successful participants. This will give you a chance to help new participants, maintain positive relationships, continued support on your relapse prevention plan, and socialize in a clean, sober and healthy environment with your fellow veterans.
Rules of the Veterans Court of Southern Indiana
To remain in Veterans Court you must follow all of the Veterans Court rules.
- You must participate in regular court supervision (in other words, you must show up at Veterans Court and or meetings with your Veterans Court Case Manager on time).
- You must live a law abiding life. (In other words, you must not get re-arrested)
- You must attend and participate in all scheduled treatment and support services appointments.
- You must successfully complete all five phases of the program.
- You must remain clean, sober and committed to managing your own care. You must complete all required paperwork.
What if I don’t follow the rules?
If you break the rules you may be subjected to a sanction.
Doing any of the following may result in a sanction:
- New arrest or other police contact
- Leaving a treatment program against medical advise
- Breaking the rules at a Treatment Program (not resulting in termination)
- Positive urine or alco-sensor tests, or admission of use Failure to take a drug test (urine screen and/or alcohol tests)
- Attempts to falsify drug tests Missing or arriving late for group or individual treatment appointments or any other Veterans Court appointments Missing or arriving late for Veterans Court appearances
- Failure to follow the direction of the Veterans Court Judge, case managers or probation officers
- Failure to appear in court will result in a sanction that may include incarceration.
- Demonstrating a lack of program progress.
Failure to appear in court will result in a sanction that may include incarceration.
Sanctions in Veterans Court may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Jail stay
- Electronic Home Monitoring/Global Positioning System
- Day reporting
- Ignition Interlock
- Reprimand, Verbal warning or admonishment by the Judge
- Full day spent in court
- An essay writing assignment
- Increased drug testing
- Increased attendance at Veterans Court sessions
- Community Service
- Open apology to Judge, Veterans Court Team or group
- Extended duration of Veteran Court
- Dismissal from Veterans Court
Common misconceptions that could lead to sanctions
- I don’t have to stop using until I begin treatment. FALSE! Stop using today.
- I completed treatment so I don’t have to come to court. FALSE! It is the Judge who tells you when to come to Court.
- I missed treatment appointments because I was out of town at a family gathering, vacation or work assignment. FALSE! You cannot leave the counties of Floyd, Clark, Harrison, Indiana or Jefferson County, Kentucky without the permission of the Judge and or recommendation by the Veterans Court Treatment team.
- I will change treatment agencies because I did not like the treatment plan or I don’t like my counselor. FALSE! These decisions will be made in conjunction with the Veterans Court Team, your primary case manager and with the approval of the Judge.
- I did not know when my next court date or treatment appointment was. FALSE! You are completely responsible for knowing these dates and times. Losing your appointment card is not an acceptable excuse.