On November 12, 2012, the Collin County Commissioners’ Court approved creation of the Collin County Veterans’ Court. Judge John Roach, Jr., Judicial Officer of the 296th Judicial District Court, will oversee the Veterans’ Court in collaboration with the Collin County District Attorney’s Office, the Veterans’ Administration and Collin County Veterans’ Service Office.
According to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, nearly 10% of all adults arrested in 2009 had served in the military. The goal of the Veterans’ Court is to provide a second chance for this specialized population of Veterans with combat-related mental impairments directly related to the crime they are charged with. Eligibility requirements will be at the discretion of the Collin County District Attorney but will exclude serious felonies and those who are dishonorably discharged. Not all violent crimes are excluded but will be approved on a case-by-case basis by the district attorney.
The Collin County Veterans’ Services Officers, along with the North Texas VA Health Care System’s Justice Outreach Specialists, will attend Veterans’ Court sessions to provide assistance to Veterans with underlying substance abuse, medical and behavioral conditions. Veteran defendants will be required to complete a series of rehabilitation processes, and graduation from the program can result in dismissal of related charges.
Plans are underway for a Kick-Off Celebration which will be held at the 296th Judicial District Court.