Attention all United States Veterans! Have you been charged with a OUI in Massachusetts? Did you serve at least one day in the US Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard? If so, you may be eligible for relief under the Valor Act, which provides alternatives to prosecution.
Valor Act applications should be considered at your arraignment. In several instances we have been able to request evaluations at your Pretrial Conference court date. To qualify for the program, you must have no prior criminal convictions (with exceptions for prior DUI’s), no outstanding warrants, and no other pending criminal cases.
The Valor Act is a Massachusetts law that gives the district courts and BMC power to divert certain servicemen and veterans pursuant to G.L. c. 276A, §10. In the pretrial diversion program, the veteran would meet with a social worker through Veterans Affairs (“VA”) to determined if he/she would benefit from participating in the program. The program focuses on drug, alcohol and mental health treatment and education. These are all ways to improve the veteran’s life.
A typical treatment program lasts 90 days. If the veteran completes the recommended treatment successfully, his case will be outright dismissed. There is never an admission or finding of guilt, thus no conviction on the offense.
If you have served our country but the Valor Act is not appropriate for your situation, other alternatives exist. For example, Veteran’s Treatment Court and the Veteran’s Justice Outreach Program. A thorough review of your particular circumstances will allow us to determine how we can help.
Submitted by Attorney Kristen McLaughlin