Valor Act in Massachusetts and Dismissal of OUI Charge for Active Duty Military

The Valor Act in Massachusetts could result in a diversion and ultimate dismissal of an OUI charge if you are in the military. It is important for you to understand this because the Valor Act assessment should happen at your arraignment of the case; if you have already been to court, feel free to contact our office we may still be able to obtain this pretrial diversion for you.

Who is Eligible for the Valor Act?

If you are a military veteran or are currently serving in the United States military and have recently been arrested and charged with an OUI or any other criminal charge, it is important that you are familiar with and understand the valor act and how it can impact your case.

The Valor Act was passed in 2012 in recognition of the service of military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq. The act permits someone who has been honorably discharged and has seen active duty to have a criminal charge of a misdemeanor, if the individual has no other record, dismissed under a diversionary program. Too frequently, veterans of the United States military are coming home and often find themselves engulfed in the criminal justice system; as the government recognizes the lack of services and recourses for veterans upon their arrival home, the valor act was created as a way to help veterans through the criminal courts should they find themselves in this situation.

Not all veterans qualify for the special diversion program that the valor act provides. Who exactly is eligible to use the valor act? To be eligible for the valor act, the defendant must:

  1. Be a veteran or currently enrolled in the military. This applies to people that have a “military history”: someone who has been honorably discharged from a branch of the United States Armed Forces;
  2. Be charged with an offense that may result in imprisonment;
  3. Not have any prior adult convictions of a crime;
  4. Not have any warrants, continuances, appeals, or open criminal cases pending.

Once probation determines that an individual qualifies, the court continues the arraignment for 14 days to allow the individual to receive a recommendation from the Veteran's Administration that they meet the eligibility requirements for the pretrial diversion program. Once the evaluation is successfully completed, you can expect the court to refer you to a diversion program and you may be subject to follow some special conditions that will be set and ultimately monitored by the probation department.

Can the District Attorney Object to a dismissal under the Valor Act?

In regards to veterans facing an OUI charge, the Massachusetts SJC recently held in that the Valor Act permits a judge to dismiss a first or second offense OUI even if the Commonwealth objects to this. The intended reason for this is so that the judge has discretion in dealing with veterans.

If you or a loved one is a veteran and is facing an OUI or any criminal charge, you should consult with an experienced defense attorney at DelSignore Law today to see if you qualify for the valor act. Attorney DelSignore can help assist you in getting the help you need and can thoroughly walk you through the process and what to expect.

To learn more about the court process and what you can expect if you do not qualify for the valor act read here.