According to the State Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 30,000 veterans will be returning to California in 2012.  It is well known that many of our vets come home with various medical problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, or other psychological issues stemming from their service in the military.

There is a relatively little known law, California Penal Code Section 1170.9. It was made into Law to grant further protection to our veterans. The statute used to be limited to combat veterans, but it was amended in 2010 to eliminate the “combat theater” requirement.

The code provides for treatment and rehabilitation over incarceration for vets suffering from PTSD and other stress disorders as the result of military service. PC 1170.9 can seriously alter the consequences for a veteran facing jail or prison time to probation and an appropriate treatment program for the duration of the sentence.

CA Penal Code § 1170.9 is specifically geared towards veterans convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.

The Code states:

(a) In the case of any person convicted of a criminal offense who could otherwise be sentenced to county jail or state prison and who alleges that he or she committed the offense as a result of sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or mental health problems stemming from service in the United States military, the court shall, prior to sentencing, make a determination as to whether the defendant was, or currently is, a member of the United States military and whether the defendant may be suffering from sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or mental health problems as a result of that service. The court may request, through existing resources, an assessment to aid in that determination.

(b) If the court concludes that a defendant convicted of a criminal offense is a person described in subdivision (a), and if the defendant is otherwise eligible for probation and the court places the defendant on probation, the court may order the defendant into a local, state, federal, or private nonprofit treatment program for a period not to exceed that which the defendant would have served in state prison or county jail, provided the defendant agrees to participate in the program and the court determines that an appropriate treatment program exists.

If you are a military veteran suffering from a stress disorder and are accused of committing a crime, you might have a legal defense based upon CA Penal Code 1170.9.  Call our office today at 619-330-5881 for a free and confidential case review.  Mr. Elliott N. Kantar has over 30 years’ experience as a Criminal Defense Attorney in San Diego and is here to help you. Or simply fill out the secure mailing form for a prompt reply.

This article is for educational purposes only and does not create a client-attorney relationship.