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WI Specialty Courts Focus on Treatment, Not Punishment

When someone is accused of a crime, the typical path is for the criminal defense attorney to negotiate with prosecutors to reduce or drop charges or argue for the alleged offender in court. There is another option for some defendants.

Not all criminal offenses end up in a traditional criminal court. Specialty courts help some offenders with treatment and rehabilitation, not time behind bars. Our attorney at the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella has experience guiding eligible clients through alternatives to the conventional criminal justice system.

Two problem-solving courts in Milwaukee are the Adult Drug Treatment Court and Veterans Treatment Court.

Adult Drug Treatment Court Targets Nonviolent Offenders

The Milwaukee County Drug Treatment Court (MCDTC) offers effective and accountable substance-use treatment and services instead of placing nonviolent offenders behind bars with higher-level criminals. Helping participants become clean helps them become productive members of the community and improves public safety.

Eligibility requirements for MCDTC include the following:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Admission of guilt
  • Dependent on drugs or alcohol according to diagnostic criteria
  • No pending OWI charges
  • Not a violent offender
  • Crime could not include the use of a firearm
  • Crime did not result in the death or serious bodily injury of another person

The highly structured program lasts a minimum of 1 year but can be as long as 18 months. Weekly court appearances, regular and random alcohol and drug tests, and intensive treatment programs are components of MCDTC. The initial stages of MCDTC typically include residential treatment.

Successful program completion is a win-win. The original charges are often dismissed. The participant who maintains their recovery can enjoy a productive life and meaningful relationships. Graduates are less likely to re-offend, reducing the financial burden on the criminal justice system and taxpayers.

Veterans Treatment Court Offers Second Chance

Military veterans often endure tremendous adversities in the defense of our country. Returning home from a war zone can be especially challenging, leaving some vets to turn to drugs or alcohol for comfort. Post-traumatic stress disorder and other emotional and mental diagnoses can make it difficult for them to reassimilate to everyday life. Some vets run afoul of the law.

Milwaukee County Veterans Treatment Court (MCVTC) diverts offenders from standard criminal justice. They receive treatment and rehabilitation instead. Veterans court involves many of the same people found in the traditional system: district attorney, defense counsel, judge, and law enforcement. However, additional support comes from the Veterans Justice Outreach of the Department of Veterans Affairs, volunteer veteran mentors, and other veterans’ organizations.

Milwaukee established its Veterans Treatment Court in 2012. Almost 400 veterans have graduated from the program. Participants must have served in the U.S. Armed Forces and have received a discharge other than dishonorable.

Participation in the Veterans Treatment Court requires the following:

  • Go to regular court hearings
  • Attend sessions under an individualized treatment plan
  • Comply with regular and random drug and alcohol testing
  • Maintain sobriety
  • Perform community service
  • Write apology letters to those impacted by their actions
  • Pay restitution, when applicable

Depending on the charge, the terms last between 6 and 18 months. Upon successful completion of the program, criminal charges are typically reduced or dropped. Probation may be terminated early.

Legal Counsel for Criminal Court Alternatives

Our goal at the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella is to help each client reduce their exposure to criminal penalties and maintain their rights and freedom. That work sometimes translates into negotiating with prosecutors to reduce charges. Sometimes, we fight the charges in front of a judge or jury. In other cases, deferred adjudication in specialty courts offers the best solution.

If you are a veteran or accused of a crime related to your substance abuse, we can help. Attorney Cherella can explain how potential options fit your circumstances. Your best interests are at the heart of each step we take.

Schedule a consultation with us by calling (414) 882-8382 or reaching out online.