Veterans Are More Likely Than Civilians to Get in Trouble With the LawA study published this past summer found that military members are more likely than non-veterans to be arrested. The Council on Criminal Justice think tank is launching a new commission to find out why, and how our country can better address this issue.

Per NBC News, a “preliminary report released Tuesday by the Council on Criminal Justice think tank found that about one-third of veterans say they have been arrested at least once, compared to fewer than one-fifth of all nonveterans, citing Justice Department data from 2015.”

The report, released in August 2022, also found that about eight percent (181,500) of all US inmates are military veterans. Upon publication, the Council on Criminal Justice also launched the Veterans Justice Commission, which will report back in two years “with its findings and its recommendations on preventing veteran incarceration.”

Why do veterans have a higher rate of incarceration?

Researchers noted several common risk factors that may contribute to veterans ending up in jail or prison. These include:

The report also notes:

The reasons underlying veterans’ justice-system involvement are complex. They range from combat-related risk factors to “bad-paper” discharges that block access to Veterans Administration benefits such as mental health and substance abuse treatment. Ineffective procedures to identify veterans upon arrest, as well as inconsistent diversion mechanisms, also play a role.

Army Col. Jim Seward, an Afghanistan veteran who led the development of criminal and juvenile justice reforms as general counsel for South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, said in a statement:

We honor our veterans with parades, medals, and words of praise when they come home, but we do too little to help them manage the trauma and other lasting damage military service can inflict. They deserve better. Our commissioners have the expertise, experience, and clout with policymakers across the country to advance solutions that will make a decisive difference in veterans’ lives.

If you are a veteran or servicemember in trouble with the law, we understand and we can help.

Legal help for naval cadets, servicemembers, and veterans

Being accused and charged with a crime is a nightmare in any circumstance. But when you’re in the military (or in military school), a criminal conviction can derail your entire life and career. If you’re arrested for a crime while off base – maybe you were arrested for DWI/DUI or got caught up in a barfight and you’re now facing assault charges – you’re gonna need help and you’re gonna need it right now.

A criminal conviction in the Annapolis area can result in a variety of pretty unpleasant consequences, including:

  • Losing your job. Conviction of a serious criminal offense can lead to your discharge from the military altogether. And, a dishonorable discharge means you’re going to lose your benefits, including your pension and health insurance.
  • Losing your rank. If you don’t lose your job, you might get bumped down a rank or two, or lose eligibility for a promotion. You could even lose your pay grade.
  • Losing your security clearance. A criminal conviction can result in your security clearance being reduced, as the military only grants high-security clearance to those with clean records.

As soon as you’re arrested, it’s important to get an experienced lawyer on your side to begin fighting the charges against you and getting your military career back on track.

What is Anne Arundel County’s Veterans Court?

Anne Arundel County‘s Veterans Court is a specialized court program designed to provide alternative services to veterans who have been charged with certain nonviolent criminal offenses. The goal of Veterans Court is to address the underlying issues that may have contributed to a veteran’s criminal behavior, such as substance abuse, mental health issues, or other challenges unique to the veteran population.

The Veterans Court program is a collaboration between the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Anne Arundel County Public Defender’s Office, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and other community organizations. The program provides veterans with access to a range of services, including:

  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Mental health counseling
  • Employment assistance
  • Housing assistance
  • Other forms of support

Veterans who are accepted into the program are typically required to attend regular court hearings, comply with treatment and counseling requirements, and demonstrate progress toward their goals. If they successfully complete the program, their charges may be dismissed or reduced.

Basically, the Veterans Court program is designed to help veterans get the support they need to overcome their challenges and avoid future involvement with the criminal justice system.

I can sit down with you, go over the charges against you, and determine whether you may be eligible for the Veterans Court program. The charges must be of a non-violent nature. Don’t worry if you don’t apply – we can work in other ways to minimize or reduce the charges against you. I understand the gravity of facing criminal charges while in the military or as a cadet and I pledge to work for the best possible outcome for your case.

At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, we want to help. Don’t hesitate if you’re a servicemember facing criminal charges; the stakes are much too high. Call our offices in Annapolis or Ellicott City or use my contact form today to schedule a consultation.

Just remember — Keep Calm, and Call Drew!