Understanding the Brave Act if you are a Veteran Facing an OUI Charge
Just last year, Massachusetts passed the Brave Act bill in an effort to extend support to military veterans who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of being charged with a criminal offense. If you were charged with OUI and are a veteran, it’s crucial that you understand the Brave Act and how it can impact the outcome of your case. While there are a number of caveats that prohibit every veteran from getting relief from the act, we have had a number of clients whom qualified for the Brave Act and were able to successfully resolve their case by taking this route.
I am familiar with the Valor Act. How does the Brave Act differ?
The Brave Act actually replaced the Valor Act and it is similar in many ways. However, the Brave Act has more provisions and a narrower veterans diversion program. The Valor Act was originally created back in 2012 in an effort to help veterans returning home; under the Valor Act, if a veteran was charged with a crime, he or she would likely resolve the case under the Valor Act and receive mental health or substance abuse treatment rather than having their case processed through the criminal justice system. However, there was some concern with the Valor Act as veterans were getting pretrial probation on cases of assault and other dangerous crimes.
Notably, The new and improved Brave Act still offers Veterans a chance to resolve their case without being thrust into the system, but it aims to fix the diversion abuses” of its predecessor, the Valor Act. Under the Brave Act, a veteran would be considered for a diversion program after undergoing a thirty-day assessment. Under the Brave Act, if you are charged with a first offense OUI, where no other person was injured, you may qualify for a diversion program.
How do I know if my case qualifies for a diversion program under the Brave Act?
Just because you were charged with OUI and you are active military OR a military veteran, you cannot automatically assume you will be given a second chance by resolving your case under the Brave Act. First, you will have to be deemed “eligible” by the VA. To be considered as eligible, you will have to be suffering from a brain injury, serious mental illness, or a substance abuse disorder, and that the issue is a result from your time in the military.
Additionally, in order to qualify, you must have no other prior OUI arrests, even if the case was dismissed or you were found not guilty. If you find yourself being charged with OUI for the first time and are a veteran, the Brave Act not only spares you from facing prosecution of the crime, you will be able to get any recommended treatment from the VA which will help you in the long run.
At DelSignore Law, we recently had a client hire for help with first offense OUI charge out of the Framingham District Court. One of the first questions we made sure to ask in speaking with the client was regarding any current or prior military service; the client did in fact have a military background, so we knew that the best option for the client was to push for the Brave Act. After being seen at the VA Hospital, the client was informed to take an alcohol education program. We were able to get the court to agree to dismiss the case upon completion of the educational program. The client forgoes a criminal conviction on his record while subsequently getting help that will likely prevent him from landing in this situation again!
Call us at DelSignore Law:
We can review your case & explain the Brave Act to you
If you were charged with OUI and this is your first time going through the court process, you should understand the Brave Act and how it could impact the way your case will proceed. If you are active duty or have a military background you may be eligible for the Brave Act. However, it does not apply in every case and it is imperative you consult with an attorney as soon as you possibly can.
Give us a call at 781-686-5924. We can go over your options with you, and we offer a free consultation of your case. If you have copies of your police report, feel free to text pictures of the report to our office, at 781-686-5924. An attorney is on standby and waiting to hear from you.