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The men and women who serve our country fight many battles overseas, but for a number of veterans, the fighting doesn’t stop when they step off the battlefield. Vets may experience PTSD, injuries from combat, or mental illnesses that follow them home.
Such is the case with Cory Hixson, a Marine veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury while he was serving and received a Purple Heart – as well as other awards – for his service.
In mid-March, Hixson disappeared from the home that he shared with his wife and two children. Apparently he was suffering from a breakdown, and when he left his house, he had no shoes or coat. While he was gone, Hixson entered an open garage for warmth, also taking a sweater and some food. For his actions, he was arrested, put in jail briefly, and charged with burglary.
Hixson did not have ill intentions when he entered the open garage, and most would probably agree that rather than time in jail, he needs rehabilitation and care for his injuries. Luckily, the District Attorney in Weld County thought so too.
Hixson’s charges were dropped, and he agreed to enter a diversion program designed to provide him with extra resources for rehabilitation, including diversion officers who Hixson will check in with on a monthly basis. The program will also allow him to create a safety plan that his family will implement in case his PTSD or TBI results in a similar incident in the future. Hixson will also participate in 10 hours of community service at the victim’s home as a means of restitution.
Hixson’s story may ring a bell for individuals who have struggled with PTSD, or who have seen loved ones with similar disorders. Unfortunately, many people enter into the criminal justice system after engaging in acts that were beyond their control at the time due to things like addiction and mental instability.
The last thing that people in this situation need is another traumatic experience to further hold them back from recovery or rehabilitation, but all too often the criminal justice system puts too much focus on punishment. Unfortunately, punishment is typically a poor replacement for rehabilitation, especially when felony charges lead to restrictions on federal benefits, aid, and more.
When an individual enters into a courtroom for an offense that was committed during a breakdown, due to addiction, and so on, they may be able to enter a diversion program like Hixson. A district attorney can offer a defendant a diversion program at any time during their case, including before charges are filed. If the diversion program is completed, the defendant’s charges will be dropped and they can move on with their life. Diversion programs exist both for juveniles and adults who have been charged with crimes – but this option isn’t available for everyone.
For example, offenders with previous crimes on their record are less likely to be granted diversion than first-time offenders. In order to enter into a diversion program or get your charges dropped, it is best to have a lawyer by your side. Your lawyer can help you create a compelling argument for rehabilitation over punishment, and provide you with resources to get that message across.
Some judges require a note from a psychiatrist or other medical professional that shows that the defendant is suffering from a mental disorder and should seek rehabilitation. In other cases, a judge will want to see the defendant make a serious effort to enter into rehabilitation and take responsibility for the crimes they are charged with. A Colorado criminal defense lawyer can guide you through this process.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.