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  • NJ A4362
  • Creates Veterans Diversion Program to divert eligible servicemembers away from criminal justice system and into appropriate case management and mental health services.
Introduced
(12/5/2016)
In Committee
(1/30/2017)
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill would require the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to collaborate with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a Statewide Veterans Diversion Program to divert eligible servicemembers who have committed certain offenses away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate case management and mental health services. Eligibility. The bill defines a "servicemember" as any veteran or enlisted person or officer of the United States Armed Forces, or a reserve component thereof, or the organized militia of the State who has served on active military duty in any combat theater or area of hostility. A servicemember is eligible for admission into the program if he committed an eligible offense and has a prior diagnosis of service-related mental illness or other indications of mental illness. An eligible offense includes a non-violent petty disorderly persons offense, disorderly persons offense or crime of the fourth degree. Veterans Diversion Resource Center (VDRC). Under the bill, the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the United States Veterans Health Administration, United States Vet Centers and other federal, State and local government agencies that serve veterans would develop and coordinate a Veterans Diversion Resource Center (VDRC) in each county. Each VDRC would serve as the single point of entry in each county to facilitate the diversion or referral of eligible servicemembers into case management and mental health services. The Veterans Diversion Resource Center would be capable of providing screening, counseling, treatment and case management for mental health issues and other co-occurring health disorders to eligible servicemembers or coordinating such services through the appropriate federal, State and local government agencies that offer assistance to veterans. A VDRC or an agency which accepts the referral of an eligible servicemember must be capable of providing law enforcement officials with periodic status reports regarding the participation and recovery progress, when the servicemember consents to the release of such information, as a condition of diversion from prosecution. The department would also collaborate with the United States Department of Defense Military Health System to develop a similar single point of entry to case management and mental health services to support the diversion and referral of non-veteran eligible servicemembers. Intake Procedure. Under the bill, when a person is taken into custody for an eligible offense, the responding law enforcement officer would inquire whether the person is a servicemember or has ever served in the military. If the person is a servicemember and exhibits behavior that may be related to a mental illness, the law enforcement officer may continue processing the individual with a preference for diversion to a Veterans Diversion Resource Center. If the alleged offense is not an eligible offense or the servicemember is resistant to diversion, the officer may file a criminal complaint. A law enforcement officer shall not divert an eligible servicemember prior to the filing of a criminal complaint if the crime or offense involves restitution for damages, violence or the threat of violence, the violation of any restraining order or protective order involving another person, or where a victim of the offense objects to the diversion. If the servicemember is not diverted, the law enforcement officer may proceed with the filing of a criminal complaint and indicate the person's status as a servicemember. At any time after the filing of a criminal complaint, but prior to the disposition of such complaint, an eligible servicemember, the public defender assigned to the eligible servicemember, or the servicemember's own legal counsel may make an application to the prosecutor to participate in the Veterans Diversion Program. The prosecutor may approve or conditionally approve an eligible servicemember's admission into the Veterans Diversion Program. The prosecutor shall have the sole discretion to determine if an eligible servicemember qualifies for and is admitted to the Veterans Diversion Program after consideration of the nature of the eligible offense, the causative relationship between the person's diagnosed or apparent mental illness and the commission of the offense, the amenability of the servicemember to participation in the services of the program, the availability of case management and mental health services, the desires of any victim, the person's history of prior convictions and the probability that diversion will promote the servicemember's recovery, prevent future criminal behavior and protect public safety. The prosecutor's approval of an application would not be conditioned on an admission or guilty plea. Disqualification. No eligible servicemember shall be admitted to the Veterans Diversion Program if the person has criminal charges pending for a crime of the third degree or higher, if the crime or offense involved violence or the threat of violence, or if the person was previously convicted of a violent crime enumerated in subsection d. of section 2 of P.L.1997, c.117 (C.2C:43-7.2). In addition, there is a presumption against admission into the Veterans Diversion Program, subject to the discretion of the prosecutor after consulting with any victim, for a servicemember charged with; (1) any crime or offense involving domestic violence; or (2) if the person committed the crime or offense while subject to a temporary or permanent restraining order. Program Requirements. To qualify for the Veterans Diversion Program, an eligible servicemember shall agree in writing to the following terms, where relevant to the eligible offense: · participate in case management and mental health services initiated through the VDRC or other similar services and cooperate with any recommended course of treatment, including the use of medications as prescribed and participation in counseling; · authorize the case management or mental health service provider to release to the prosecutor periodic status reports regarding the servicemember's participation, cooperation and recovery progress; · cooperate with case management service providers to procure housing, education and employment services; · pay restitution for damages that have resulted from the offense; · refrain from the use of alcohol or illegal drugs or frequenting any place where alcohol or illegal drugs are sold and used; · refrain from the possession or use of firearms or other weapons; · refrain from further criminal activity; · refrain from any contact with a victim of the offense; · cooperate with a mentor, where assigned, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Justice Outreach Specialist; · suspend the tolling of time for the purposes of the serevicemember's right to a speedy trial; · advise the prosecutor of any change in the servicemember's residential address or any change in the provider of case management and mental health services; and · any other terms and conditions deemed appropriate by the prosecutor. The prosecutor would determine the duration of the servicemember's participation in the program, except that the servicemember's participation in the program could not exceed two years from the date of the diversion agreement. The servicemember would be responsible for coordinating with the centers to ensure that the prosecutor receives periodic reports on the servicemember's participation, cooperation and recovery progress. The servicemember would be required to contact the Veterans Diversion Resource Center or other case management and mental health service provider within seven days of the date of the diversion agreement. The court would review the status of the deferred prosecution of the servicemember no later than six months from the date on which the court approved the prosecutor's initial request for a postponement of the proceedings, and, thereafter, every six months from the most recent review, to consider, whether the postponement of court proceedings should continue. If, after a minimum of six months from the date of the diversion agreement, the prosecutor is satisfied that the servicemember has complied with the diversion agreement, has not been the subject of any subsequent criminal charges, and continues to make progress with case management services and mental health recovery, the prosecutor may for the dismissal of the criminal charge and terminate the servicemember's participation. If, at any time, the prosecutor finds that the servicemember has failed to comply with the diversion agreement, the prosecutor may notify the court that the State is prepared to proceed with the prosecution. No fee would be assessed to a servicemember for participation in the Veterans Diversion Program. An eligible servicemember may be admitted to the Veterans Diversion Program one or more times at the discretion of the prosecutor. The dismissal of charges based on a servicemember's successful participation in the Veterans Diversion Program would not be deemed: (1) a conviction for purposes of disqualifications or disabilities but shall be reported to the State Bureau of Identification criminal history record information files for purposes of determining future eligibility or exclusion from other diversion programs; or (2) a conviction for the purpose of determining whether a second or subsequent offense has occurred under any law of this State. In addition, the bill requires the Administrative Director of the Courts to develop a differentiated mental health supervision case type within the Probation Division of the Superior Court for eligible servicemembers who are sentenced to a term of probation supervision. Eligible servicemembers who are sentenced to a term of probation supervision would be screened and assigned to a differentiated mental health supervision case type pursuant to procedures developed by the Administrative Director of the Courts. Amendatory sections. The bill amends N.J.S.2C:52-6 concerning expungement to allow for expungement of all records and information relating to the arrest or charge dismissed pursuant based on a person's successful participation in the Veterans Diversion Program. In addition, the bill amends the PTI statute (N.J.S.2C:43-12), conditional discharge statute (N.J.S.2C:36A-1) and the conditional dismissal statute (section 1 of P.L.2013, c.158 (C.2C:43-13.1) to cross reference the Veterans Diversion Program established by the bill. Under the bill successful completion of the Veterans Diversion Program bars the servicemember's eligibility for PTI, conditional dismissal and conditional discharge programs. Mentor Registry. The bill also amends N.J.S.38A:3-6 to require the Adjutant General of the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs to develop a registry of volunteer mentors. The registry would be available to county prosecutors and to the Administrative Director of the Courts to facilitate the assignment of mentors to persons admitted into the Veterans Diversion Program. The registry of mentors would be periodically updated by the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs. Annual Report. The bill requires the Attorney General, with the cooperation with the Administrative Director of the Courts, to prepare an annual report to the Legislature and Governor regarding the Veterans Diversion Program to assist policymakers in determining whether the program should be modified or expanded to achieve the goals of recovery for eligible servicemembers and public safety. In addition, the bill would require the Attorney General, the Administrative Director of the Courts, and the Adjutant General to publish on their respective websites information regarding the Veterans Diversion Programs. Effective Date. The bill takes effect on the first day of the seventh month next following enactment, except that the Attorney General, the Administrative Director of the Courts, and the Adjutant General may take any anticipatory administrative action in advance.
2nd Reading in the Assembly, Military and Veterans' Affairs, Substituted by another Bill
Substituted by S307 (SCS/2R)  (on 2/15/2017)
 
 
Date Chamber Action Description
2/15/2017 A Substituted by S307 (SCS/2R)
1/30/2017 Assembly Appropriations Hearing (19:00 1/30/2017 A-4352 pending referral)
1/30/2017 A Reported out of Assembly Comm. with Amendments, 2nd Reading
1/30/2017 Assembly Appropriations Hearing (13:00 1/30/2017 Committee Room 11, 4th Floor)
1/19/2017 Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Hearing (10:00 1/19/2017 Committee Room 16, 4th Floor)
1/19/2017 A Reported out of Asm. Comm. with Amendments, and Referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee
1/19/2017 Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Hearing (10:00 1/19/2017 Committee Room 13, 4th Floor)
12/5/2016 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
Detail 1/30/2017 Assembly Appropriations Committee: Reported with Amendments 11 0 0
Detail 1/19/2017 Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee: Reported with Amendments 5 0 1