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According to U.S. Census Bureau research, Miami-Dade County is home to more than 48,000 veterans. Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle is committed to keeping our community safe and empowering all residents, including those who served our country. She started our Veteran Treatment Court (VTC) in partnership with key stakeholders, including the courts the Office of the Miami-Dade Public Defender, and various organizations that serve former service members.

VTC is a dual-diagnosis court that serves veterans struggling with addiction, severe mental illness, and co-occurring disorders who are charged with non-violent and lower level felony offenses. The Court promotes sobriety, recovery, and stability through a coordinated response involving several agencies’ cooperation and collaboration.

The Court diverts former service members with mental health issues from the criminal justice system and gives them the opportunity to improve their quality of life by addressing their underlying conditions. The program offers participants support and rehabilitation through comprehensive substance abuse and mental health treatment, education, vocational programs, and community resource referrals for housing, childcare, and transportation. Participants are judicially monitored for a minimum of 14 months.

VTC is a pre-adjudicatory, pre-trial, voluntary program. Participants are regularly and randomly tested for substance use throughout the entire program. Participants are placed in one of two tracks based on their risk and need level. Eligible veterans progress through five distinct, court-monitored treatment phases tied to their respective tracks. There is a recognized length of time for each phase and program requirements that must be met for participants to advance to the next phase.

Photo: Two Veterans Photo: Veteran Stock

In addition to other criteria, each participant must meet the following requirements to complete the program:

  • Abstain from using drugs or alcohol for a certain number of consecutive days;
  • Attend all treatment sessions;
  • Remain in compliance with treatment and case plans, and
  • Attend all court sessions.

After completing the five phases of treatment and when monitoring or case management services are no longer needed, the VTC team will recommend that the judge “graduate” participants and release them from court supervision. Successful program completion may result in a reduction or dismissal of the pending charges or the imposition of a more favorable sentence, depending on the terms of the participant’s contract.

Upon graduation, first-time offenders typically have their case nolle prossed (dropped by the State). These veterans may qualify to have their arrest record sealed or expunged, significantly improving future employment and career opportunities. For other offenders, their case may result in adjudication withheld. Most importantly, participants who have a sincere desire to maintain their recovery efforts can avoid further problems with the law and learn to better cope with their mental illness.

Contact Information

Address

Veterans Treatment Court Office

Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building

1351 N.W. 12th Street Room 421

Miami, FL 33125

Phone: (305) 548-5296

Staff Contact

Veterans Treatment Court Coordinator

VTC@jud11.flcourts.org