Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) is a treatment court that began in May 2012 and works with current or former members of the United States Military that are involved in the criminal justice system. The goal is to improve outcomes for this population by connecting them to needed services through the Veterans Administration. Services may include mental health treatment and therapy, substance abuse counseling, health care, employment/job training and housing assistance.
Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) is a collaborative effort of the San Mateo County Court, District Attorney's Office, Private Defender Program, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS), Veterans Administration (VA) and the Probation Department. Participants are intensively supervised by Probation, expected to engage in services provided by the VA and are required to appear in court for monthly progress reviews. Additionally, each participant is assigned a Veteran mentor for support while in the program. If they complete VTC, participants may be eligible to have their fines reduced; their probation terminated early and/or have their charges expunged and record sealed
Participation in VTC is voluntary and participants are required to agree to additional probation conditions including that they agree to progressive sanctions in accordance with evidence-based practices. These sanctions are imposed at the discretion of the Probation Department for up to 10 days at any one time without the right to a court hearing or representation of an attorney should they violate VTC rules. Participants may also be ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device and agree to take prescribed medication as a condition of probation. Defendants who are eligible are generally admitted after they enter a guilty or no contest plea, but prior to sentencing on their charges.
The following is the current eligibility requirements for VTC:
- Have a prior or current membership in the United States Military and be eligible for Veterans Administration benefits
- Have a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), sexual trauma and/or substance abuse or other mental health issue that stems from military service.
- Be eligible for probation and not considered to be a danger to the community.
The Veteran is not eligible for VTC if:
- As a result of current or past criminal activity, the Veteran is either a sex or gang registrant;
- As a result of the current offense, the victim suffered death, great bodily injury, permanent disability or disfigurement;
- Discharged from the military as dishonorable.
Any person can refer an arrested and/or incarcerated Veteran for Veterans Treatment Court consideration. Initial Referral forms for Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) are available throughout the County, and on-line at the Probation Department’s website. The Veterans Initial Referral form can be completed by jail personnel, VA employees, County Veterans Services employees, and family and friends of any arrested and/or incarcerated Veteran. It will be forwarded to and processed through the Probation Department. The Probation Department provides Application & Release forms to the referred Veteran and/or his/her attorney. These Application & Release forms will be completed by the Veteran and his/her attorney if the matter is ultimately, referred by a sentencing judge, to VTC.
Any person may ask the sentencing Judge to refer the Veteran to VTC at or before the time of sentence. If the sentencing Judge agrees to a probationary sentence and a VTC referral, the Judge will set the jail “top”, and calendars the Veteran’s case for the next VTC session. A Judge/Commissioner taking a plea or admission on a Veteran who is suitable for probation can refer the Veteran’s case to VTC (with an Arbuckle waiver) for a determination of eligibility and/or sentencing, with a jail top of 12 months or less.
The Veteran and his/her attorney completes an Application for Admission to Veterans Treatment Court. A Veteran also completes a Release of Confidential Information form (state and federal). The Veteran’s attorney then furnishes the application and releases to Probation and furnishes a copy of each to the VTC case manager. Applications for Admission and Release forms are available in various places throughout the Count which contains the address for the Probation Department. Probation reviews the Veteran’s case, background and circumstances to try to determine if the Veteran meets the basic criteria for VTC.
VTC Program Rules
After admission into VTC, the Veteran signs the below document (VTC Rules) which outlines expectations as a participant of the program. This document is reviewed and signed with the participant when the probation officer orients her/him to probation and VTC upon admission into the program.
The VTC progress report is submitted by the DPO every time a Veteran appears in VTC for a progress review. This report provides crucial information for the team to review and determine the participant’s progress and engagement in treatment.
- VTC Picnic - an annual VTC picnic is held in the picnic area at Red Morton Center in Redwood City. This event provides a fun way to get gather the VTC team, participants and collaborative partners for a prosocial event.
- VTC Veterans Appreciation Day - This event occurs in Court the Friday before Veterans Day. All VTC participants are required to attend. A Superior Court Judge and the Probation Department receive, and review letters received from school-age children to veterans, expressing their gratitude for their service. Selected letters are read in court by some members of the VTC team. Also included in the event is a guest speaker who has served in the military and shares her/his own personal story and words of wisdom.
Graduations are typically held three – four times a year in the VTC courtroom. All VTC participants are required to attend the graduation. The graduate receives accommodations including a certificate of completion, a gift card, and an achievement coin. A graduation letter is also written by the VTC DPO with a summary of information regarding background, participation and achievements while in the program. The VTC DPO also includes comments from the VA and other providers. Possible incentives for successful completion of the program will include fine reduction, early termination of probation, dismissal, expungement of a conviction.
If you would like to apply Veterans Treatment Court, please complete the application and return it to the appropriate address on the form.
If you have questions about a court case, contact the San Mateo County Courts.
If you want to know which Deputy Probation Officer is assigned to your case, call (650) 363-4244