On December 1, 2017, the Veterans Diversion Program (VDP) went into effect across the state and is codified under NJSA 2C:43-23 to 31. The purpose of the program is to provide veterans who are suffering from a mental illness or substance abuse and are charged with certain criminal offenses, the help they need by routing them through community and government-based resources.
To be eligible, a participant must meet three criteria:
A veteran or currently serving member of the U.S. armed forces, or a reserve component thereof, or the organized militia (National Guard);
That has an eligible offense (non-violent petty disorderly offenses, disorderly persons offenses, 3rd, and 4th degree indictable offenses, and
Has a mental illness or who is believed to have a mental illness based on behaviors and symptoms exhibited during the offense or while in custody.
A person is not eligible for this program if they have a pending first or second-degree charge; a prior conviction for a No Early Release Act crime; or a crime or offense involving violence or the threat of violence. Persons charged with an offense involving domestic violence likely will not be eligible.
Defendants may apply to the prosecutor for admission at any time prior to disposition of the charges. The prosecutor has full discretion in the admission process.
Defendants must fill out the application form, provide proof of discharge or service, and seek an evaluation from their local veteran service provider.
No plea of guilt is required for admission and the court will divert the case if accepted.
After a minimum of 6 months from the date of diversion, the prosecutor may move for dismissal of the criminal charges if the defendant has complied with the terms and conditions of the agreement and has no new charges. Prosecutors may also ask for an immediate expungement of charges.