Welcome to the King County District Court Regional Veterans Court
What is unique about this program?
King County has a long tradition of honoring and serving military personnel and veterans. King County District Court recognizes that veterans in the justice system may be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other service-related disabilities. The King County Regional Veterans Court seeks to increase effective cooperation between federal, state, and local veteran’s service agencies and the criminal justice system. The mission of the Regional Veterans Court is to:
- Address the underlying issues that have resulted in the veteran being referred to the criminal justice system;
- Provide a courtroom environment that is supportive and respectful of the veteran and the victim (if any), and conducive to reaching a successful outcome in every case; and
- Strive to increase public safety through a collaborative, team-based approach that includes the veteran and incorporates individualized treatment plans, close monitoring, and creative approaches to resolve difficult issues.
Who is on the Regional Veterans Court team?
Regional Veterans Court consists of a team of professionals who have specialized training and experience with mental health issues and therapeutic courts. They meet regularly to ensure that RVC functions at its highest possible level. The team consists of:
- The Judge;
- The Defense Attorneys and Defense Social Workers;
- The Prosecutors and Victim Advocate;
- The Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists;
- The Probation Mental Health Specialists;
- The Court Clinicians; and
- The Program Manager.
How does a case get into Regional Veterans Court?
If the defendant is charged with a felony or the case is pending in a King County municipal court, the Prosecutor currently assigned to the case must make the referral. City prosecutors must use the RVC City Referral Form. Felony cases and city case can only be referred before final disposition.
If the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor and the case is being prosecuted by the King County Prosecutor’s Office, anyone –including defense counsel- can refer the case to RVC. These cases may be referred at any stage of the proceedings, from pre-filing to post-sentencing. Referrals are typically made in court at the time that the veteran status and qualifying diagnosis are identified, simply by asking the currently-assigned judge to set an RVC courtesy hearing. Law enforcement and other interested parties may contact the King County Prosecutor’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time to initiate a referral.
What are the eligibility criteria?
- The charge(s) are being prosecuted by King County or a municipality within King County;
- The defendant meets diagnostic criteria for a behavioral health disorder that could be treated through VA Health Care Services.
- Appropriate services are available through the VA and the defendant is eligible for those services; and
- The defendant demonstrates a willingness and ability to engage in treatment and probation and to abide by court conditions.
What happens once the case is referred to Regional Veterans Court?
Defendants appear in court one or more times to meet with the RVC team and to screen for program eligibility. During this time, the defendant will be asked to sign one or more releases of information, so that the RVC Clinicians can review records related to the defendant’s current or prior treatment records. The defendant may be required to establish his or her military discharge status in order to show eligibility for VA services. Defense counsel may also be asked to provide supplemental information about the defendant’s needs. During the screening process, the defendant will be placed on conditions of release specific to Regional Veterans Court. If the defendant is eligible for RVC and amenable to program requirements, the Court Clinician will draft an individualized treatment plan specific to the defendant’s needs. In order to opt in to RVC, the defendant must enter a case disposition. Depending upon the nature and severity of the charge(s), this may be a stipulated order of continuance or other diversion agreement, or a guilty plea.
What are the expectations of Regional Veterans Court?
Every treatment plan is unique, but typical conditions of supervision include:
- The defendant must comply with conditions of treatment and up to 24 months of supervision;
- The defendant must be actively engaged in mental health treatment and/or a chemical dependency program while participating in court;
- The defendant must take prescribed medications as directed;
- The defendant must maintain court-approved clean and sober housing and follow all housing rules (the RVC team can often assist with housing placements);
- The defendant must submit to urinalysis as directed;
- The defendant must commit no new law violations and may not possess weapons;
- The defendant must report to a Probation Mental Health Court Specialist as directed by the Judge; and
- The defendant must return to court for reviews on a regular basis, initially weekly and then as ordered by the Judge.
I have additional questions. Whom do I contact?
Regional Veterans Court Forms and Materials
Additional resources for veterans and their families