Recently, the New Jersey Legislature created a Statewide Veterans Diversion Program which solely empowers the County Prosecutors Office to divert an eligible "servicemember” charged with certain crimes from traditional means of prosecution into rehabilitative treatment.
N.J.S.A. 2C:43-26 defines a “servicemember” as any “veteran or enlisted person of the United States Armed Forces, or a reserve component thereof, or the organized militia of the State of New Jersey."
To be eligible for the Program the “servicemember” must be charged with a non-violent Petty Disorderly Persons Offense, Disorderly Persons Offense, or a Crime of the 3rd or 4th Degree. Additionally, the “servicemember” must have a diagnosis of “mental illness” which has a causal relationship to the crime that was committed and, no prior violent criminal history. Under the statute “mental illness” includes, but is not limited to, “anxiety disorders, cognitive disorders, adjustment disorders, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)”.
If accepted into the Program the prosecution of the “servicemember” is postponed for a period of not more than two (2) years which during he or she must abide by certain conditions including, but not limited to, mental health treatment, maintaining employment/education, refraining from using drugs, alcohol, or firearms, committing no further criminal activity, and having no contact with the victim. If the “servicemember” successfully completes the program, his or her charges are dismissed and may immediately thereafter, petition the Court for an expungement of the arrest.
If you are “servicemember” and have been charged with an offense or crime and need assistance enrolling into the Veterans Diversion Program please contact Criminal Law Partner Greg S. Gargulinski, Esq.