Veterans Diversion Program
SOMERSET COUNTY PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE
VETERANS DIVERSION PROGRAM
On December 1, 2017, P.L.2017, c.42 (C.2C:43-23 et al.), an Act concerning offenders who are veterans or service members, amending various sections of the law and supplementing Title 2C and Title 38 of the New Jersey Statutes became effective. In accordance with that law, The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office established a Veterans Diversion Program.
The purpose of the program is to divert eligible service members who have committed nonviolent offenses away from the traditional criminal justice system into appropriate case management and mental health services. If an eligible veteran/defendant is accepted into the program, upon successful completion, the defendant may have his/her charges downgraded to lesser charges, a previous recommendation of a custodial sentence amended to a recommendation of non-custodial probation or receive a dismissal of the charges.
The program, which is administered by the SCPO in conjunction with various mental health and other service providers, endeavors to meet the specific needs of each individual defendant including mental health and substance abuse treatment. The duration of the program depends upon the number, type and severity of the defendant’s issues and his/her progress in the treatment programs. The minimum length of the Program is six months while the maximum length is two years.
If a defendant is terminated from the program for any reason prior to successful completion or withdraws from the program prior to successful completion, he/she is returned to the court’s active calendar for traditional prosecution.
To be eligible for consideration to participate in the Program, the defendant must be charged with a non-violent Petty Disorderly Persons Offense, Disorderly Persons Offense or a third or fourth degree crime. The defendant must be a Somerset County resident who is a veteran who was discharged or otherwise released from active service in the U.S. Armed Forces or any reserve component thereof. Defendant cannot have been discharged with a Dishonorable Discharge. Defendant must have a prior diagnosis of mental illness or the arresting officer or Assistant Prosecutor has a reasonable belief that the defendant has a mental illness based on behaviors and symptoms exhibited during the commission of the offense or while in custody or based on information provided by family members or associates during the investigation of the offense. Defendant must agree to all the Program requirements for admission into and successful completion of the Program. Defendant cannot be currently in another diversionary program and defendant’s current offense cannot be likely to result in a probation, parole or other supervision violation that will most likely result in a period of incarceration.