Minnesota Criminal Justice System

Helping Our Heroes: Veterans in the Minnesota Criminal Justice System

“When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?” 
-George Canning

Gratitude shall not sleep. But, it may take a very unique form – especially in Minnesota.

In Minnesota, gratitude takes the form of a Veterans Court created in Hennepin County solely for the treatment, assistance, and rehabilitation of veterans charged with crimes. The Veterans Court provides a higher level of understanding, compassion, and commitment to providing meaningful assistance to veterans in the criminal justice system.

The Veterans Court was a result of the groundbreaking legislation passed in 2008 by the Minnesota Legislature. The new law encourages Courts to consider a veteran’s military service, any diagnosed mental health problems, and treatment recommendations from the veteran’s healthcare professionals before the Court imposes its sentence on a veteran.

This kind of Court is particularly helpful because it focuses on rehabilitation rather than a single stint of incarceration. The Minnesota legislature realized that our veterans, our heroes, might be scarred with deep physical, psychological, and emotional problems as a result of their military service. The Minnesota legislature also realized that these often-untreated issues might play a role in a veteran’s criminal activity, arrest, or criminal charges. Therefore, special consideration is given to veterans who are accused of criminal offenses.

If you or a loved one is a veteran and facing criminal charges, or suspected of criminal activity, make sure you talk to a Minnesota criminal defense attorney who is aware of the new law and the new Veterans Court. This can go a long way in ensuring a successful case resolution, but more importantly, to ensuring that our heroes receive the gratitude that they so rightly deserve.

Counseling and outreach to all veterans is always available at the Vet Center. More information can be found here.