Veterans Courts in Illinois

Veterans Courts in Illinois
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Last updated: March 2011

What Are Veterans Courts?

Illinois’ Veterans Courts are set-up to meet the special legal needs of veterans and service members who have service related illnesses and commit minor crimes. Veterans Court may allow a veteran who commits a nonviolent crime to complete a substance abuse treatment program or mental health counseling in place of jail time. 

Who Can Use Veterans Courts?

Any veteran or service member with a service related illness is qualified to have their case moved to a Veterans Court as long as the:

  • Prosecutor and the Veterans Court agree to the move
  • Crime committed was not violent (see list below)
  • Veteran wants to take part in the treatment program
  • Veteran or service member has not been convicted of a violent crime within the past 10 years
  • Veteran has not used the Veterans Court services within the past 3 years
  • Veteran is eligible for probation based on the crime and the individual sentence

Examples of violent crimes are:

  • First and second degree murder
  • Predatory criminal sexual assault of a child
  • Armed robbery
  • Aggravated arson and arson
  • Aggravated kidnapping and kidnapping 
  • Aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm or permanent disability
  • Aggravated stalking and stalking 
  • Any offense involving firing a gun
  • An event which caused serious bodily injury or death to any person

How Do Veterans Courts Work?

Cases in Veterans Court follow these steps:

  1. The veteran must pass an eligibility exam.
  2. The veteran must take a mental health and drug/alcohol exam. The Veterans Affair (VA) or the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) can give the exam. 
  3. The VA decides the best way to treat the veteran’s issue based on the results of the health exam. This is called the “road map to recovery.” The road map might include a substance abuse program, inpatient or outpatient mental health counseling, taking medication and follow up treatment. 
  4. The VA gives the "road map to recovery" to the Veterans Court. The Veterans Court may order the veteran to follow it. The veteran must agree in writing to follow the "road map to recovery."
  5. Once the veteran completes the “road map to recovery,” the judge dismisses the criminal case.

What If the Veteran Does Not Follow the “Road Map to Recovery”?

Veterans or service members who do not follow their treatment plan will have their case go back to criminal court.

Is There a Veterans Court in My County?

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