Veterans in Massachusetts may avoid convictions for operating under the influence in some cases. The Supreme Judicial Court recently cited the “often difficult return to civilian life” for veterans and affirmed that a 2012 state law, known as the Valor Act, allows judges to divert some veterans to rehabilitation programs in lieu of having their case prosecuted at court and brought to trial. See Commonwealth v. Morgan, 476 Mass. 768 (2017).
If the veteran successfully completes the rehabilitation program their case may be dismissed. The court found that this approach is consistent with “a growing national recognition that the traditional processes of the criminal justice system fail to adequately support veterans suffering from substance abuse.”
To explore the possibility of participation in these programs and protecting their criminal record, the veteran should inform their defense counsel of their veteran status as soon as possible and, critically, must inform the probation department of their status when they initially check in prior to arraignment.