Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina unveiled a program that will allow veterans and active service members suffering from a mental health condition to be allowed treatment instead of facing criminal prosecution when committing certain offenses. 

Credit: Comstock
Credit: Comstock

Burlington County is home to one of the largest populations of veterans and active service members in the state because of the presence of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

Prosecutor Coffina said, " We owe our veterans and active armed forces members a tremendous debt of gratitude. Many of them have endured multiple deployments and experiences the horrors of combat over the past 15 years, or continue to deal with the trauma from battles decades ago while protecting us and defending our freedom. We recognize that many of them are afflicted with post traumatic stress disorder or other mental health conditions as a result of their experiences. Their sacrifices on our behalf have earned them the opportunity to seek treatment rather than face a criminal conviction when they commit relatively minor, nonviolent offenses."

Anyone admitted to the program who successfully fulfills the requirements will have their criminal charges dismissed and the record of that offense will be expunged.

The person's criminal history, the nature and circumstances surrounding the offense, and the likelihood that diversion into treatment will be successful. If the victim objects, diversion will not be approved.

Local law enforcement agencies are now required to ask individuals they detain about their military status and consider whether or not they may be eligible for the program before a criminal complaint is filed.

For more information, visit www.burlpros.org and click on "Veterans Diversion Program" located on the left of the page.

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