Tarrant County Veteran’s Court Diversion Program




Veteran’s Court Diversion Program


As a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney, I’ve had the privilege of working with many veterans who have found themselves charged with a crime. These individuals, who have bravely served our country, often face unique challenges upon returning to civilian life. Issues such as PTSD, substance abuse, and other mental health conditions can lead to behaviors that result in criminal charges. Thankfully, the Tarrant County Veterans Court Diversion Program offers a lifeline to these veterans, providing an alternative to traditional prosecution and focusing on rehabilitation and support. 

Understanding the Veterans Court Diversion Program

The Veterans Court Diversion Program is a specialized court designed to address the unique needs of veterans in the criminal justice system. This program recognizes that the traumas of military service can contribute to criminal behavior and aims to provide the necessary support and treatment to help veterans get back on track.

Who is Eligible?

If you have been charged with a crime, it is important to remember that inclusion in the Veteran’s Court program is not automatic. You need the assistance of an attorney to advocate for your admission. To be eligible for the Veterans Court Diversion Program, defendants must meet specific criteria:

    • Veteran Status: The individual must be a veteran or current member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
    • Service-Related Issues: The criminal offense may need to be connected to service-related issues such as PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or substance abuse. However, this causation may not be necessary in all cases.
    • Have a pending eligible misdemeanor or felony offense in Tarrant County
    • Non-Violent Offenses: Generally, the program is open to those charged with non-violent crimes.
  • Commitment to Participation: The defendant must demonstrate a willingness to comply with the program’s requirements and engage fully in the rehabilitation process.

What is the Process?

To be included in the program, the applicant’s criminal defense attorney must approve submission of the application. Once the application is submitted, the Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) office will review it and eligible applications are submitted to the Criminal District Attorney’s Office for approval/denial. 

If approved, you would: 

  • Attend an orientation where they learn the program requirements and expectations
  • Be scheduled for a comprehensive mental health examination 
  • If given final approval, you would be scheduled for admission into the Veterans Treatment Court 

What is required?

The following requirements must be met while admitted to the Veterans Treatment Court:

  • You must enter a plea of guilty upon admission into the VTC.
  • You cannot commit a criminal offense for the duration of the program or consume alcohol or non-prescribed controlled substances
  • You will be subject to random drug tests
  • You must attend all treatment and counseling appointments and hearings
  • Take all psychiatric medications prescribed by treating physicians
  • Report to the VTC case manager
  • Agree to follow any/all directives given by the VTC staff

What happens if I complete the VTC Program?

If you complete the program, the prosecutor representing the State will enter an order dismissing the pending charges and you would be eligible for an expunction. 

The Benefits from a Defense Attorney’s Perspective

As a defense attorney, I have witnessed firsthand the profound impact of the Veterans Court Diversion Program. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Tailored Rehabilitation

The program’s individualized approach addresses the unique needs of each veteran, ensuring that they receive the specific support and treatment necessary to overcome their challenges. This tailored rehabilitation is far more effective than the one-size-fits-all approach of traditional prosecution.

  1. Reduced Recidivism

By focusing on the root causes of criminal behavior, such as mental health issues and substance abuse, the program significantly reduces the likelihood of re-offending. This not only benefits the individual veteran but also enhances public safety.

  1. Honoring Service

Although I was not in the armed services myself, I absolutely love having the opportunity to work with veterans and help them get approved for this program. The Veterans Court Diversion Program recognizes and respects the sacrifices made by our veterans. By offering a compassionate and understanding approach, the program honors their service while providing them with the support they need to reintegrate successfully into civilian life.

  1. Legal and Personal Outcomes

For many veterans, the program offers a path to avoid a criminal record, which can have lasting negative effects on employment, housing, and other aspects of life. Moreover, the program fosters personal growth and positive change, helping veterans to build a more stable and fulfilling future.


The Tarrant County Veterans Court Diversion Program is an invaluable resource for veterans and a testament to the county’s commitment to justice and rehabilitation. As a criminal defense attorney, I am grateful for this program and its positive impact on the lives of veterans and the community. By providing an alternative to traditional prosecution, the Veterans Court Diversion Program not only helps veterans to overcome their challenges but also promotes a more just and supportive society. For any veteran facing criminal charges, I will strongly advocate for inclusion in this program as a pathway to recovery and a better future.

If you have been charged with a crime, please call me as soon as possible to discuss your options and whether or not the Veteran’s Court Diversion Program could be available to you.

Fort Worth Criminal Lawyer

Stephen Handy

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