F L O R I D A H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S
HB 7023 2021
1 A bill to be entitled
2 An act relating to veterans treatment court programs;
3 amending s. 394.47891, F.S.; providing legislative
4 intent; providing definitions; authorizing certain
5 courts to create and administer veterans treatment
6 court programs; authorizing certain eligible
7 defendants to be admitted to a veterans treatment
8 court program at any stage of a criminal proceeding;
9 requiring such defendants to submit an application for
10 participation in a veterans treatment court program to
11 the state attorney for review; requiring each veterans
12 treatment court program to seek input from certain
13 persons in developing and adopting certain policies
14 and procedures; requiring that a court create a record
15 of such policies and procedures; providing eligibility
16 criteria for participation in the veterans treatment
17 court program; providing that the act does not create
18 a right to participate; providing for liberal
19 construction; deleting provisions addressing the
20 Military Veterans and Servicemembers Court Program;
21 amending ss. 43.51, 910.035, and 948.06, F.S.;
22 conforming provisions to changes made by the act;
23 amending ss. 948.08 and 948.16, F.S.; revising
24 eligibility for pretrial programs; amending s. 948.21,
25 F.S.; authorizing a court to impose a condition
Page 1 of 14
CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
hb7023-00
F L O R I D A H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S
HB 7023 2021
26 requiring certain probationers or community
27 controllees to participate in certain treatment
28 programs under certain circumstances; providing
29 applicability; providing an effective date.
30
31 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
32
33 Section 1. Section 394.47891, Florida Statutes, is amended
34 to read:
35 394.47891 Military Veterans treatment and servicemembers
36 court programs.—
37 (1) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.—It is the intent of the
38 Legislature to encourage and support the judicial circuits of
39 the state and other agencies, local governments, interested
40 public and private entities, and individuals to create and
41 maintain a veterans treatment court program in each judicial
42 circuit. The purpose of a veterans treatment court program is to
43 address the underlying causes of a veteran's involvement with
44 the judicial system through the use of specialized dockets,
45 multidisciplinary teams, and evidence-based treatment. A
46 veterans treatment court program shall use nonadversarial
47 approaches to resolve such underlying causes. Veterans treatment
48 court programs depend on the leadership of attorneys and judges
49 or magistrates who are educated in the issues and science of
50 veterans' behaviors leading to court involvement and require a
Page 2 of 14
CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
hb7023-00
F L O R I D A H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S
HB 7023 2021
51 rigorous team effort to detect, discern, and assist veterans in
52 correcting the behaviors and choices that lead to the veterans'
53 court involvement. This section creates a detailed statewide
54 standard for the creation, operation, and procedures for
55 veterans treatment court programs.
56 (2) DEFINITIONS.—For purposes of this section, the term:
57 (a) "Defendant" means a veteran or servicemember who has
58 been charged with or convicted of a criminal offense.
59 (b) "Servicemember" means:
60 1. A member of the active or reserve components of the
61 United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force,
62 or Coast Guard;
63 2. A member of the Florida National Guard;
64 3. A current or former contractor for the United States
65 Department of Defense; or
66 4. A current or former military member of a foreign allied
67 country.
68 (c) "Veteran" means a person who has served in the
69 military.
70 (d) "Veterans treatment court program" means a specialized
71 docket administered by a court for veterans and servicemembers
72 as set forth in this section.
73 (3) AUTHORIZATION.—
74 (a) A court with jurisdiction over criminal cases may
75 create and administer a veterans treatment court program.
Page 3 of 14
CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
hb7023-00
F L O R I D A H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S
HB 7023 2021
76 (b) A veterans treatment court program may adjudicate
77 misdemeanors and felonies.
78 (c) The chief judge may issue administrative orders
79 concerning the veterans treatment court program.
80 (d) The chief judge and state attorney of the judicial
81 circuit that creates and administers a veterans treatment court
82 program have the exclusive authority to determine whether
83 veterans who have been dishonorably discharged may participate
84 in the veterans treatment court program within the circuit.
85 (4) ADMISSION.—A defendant who meets the eligibility
86 requirements under subsection (8) may be admitted to a veterans
87 treatment court program at any stage of a criminal proceeding. A
88 defendant seeking to participate in a veterans treatment court
89 program must submit an application to the state attorney. The
90 state attorney must review each application and determine
91 whether the defendant meets the eligibility requirements in
92 subsection (8).
93 (5) RECORD OF POLICIES AND PROCEDURES.—
94 (a) Each veterans treatment court program shall seek input
95 from the state attorney and other interested persons in
96 developing and adopting policies and procedures to implement
97 subsections (6) and (7).
98 (b) A veterans treatment court program shall create a
99 record of the policies and procedures adopted to implement
100 subsections (6) and (7).
Page 4 of 14
CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
hb7023-00
F L O R I D A H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S
HB 7023 2021
101 (6) KEY COMPONENTS OF A VETERANS TREATMENT COURT PROGRAM.—
102 (a) A veterans treatment court program shall adopt
103 policies and procedures to implement the following key
104 components, including:
105 1. Integrating substance abuse and mental health treatment
106 services, and any other related treatment and rehabilitation
107 services with justice system case processing.
108 2. Using a nonadversarial approach in which the state
109 attorney and defense counsel promote public safety while
110 protecting the due process rights of the defendant.
111 3. Providing for early identification of eligible
112 defendants.
113 4. Monitoring defendants for abstinence from alcohol and
114 drugs by frequent testing.
115 5. Providing ongoing judicial interaction with each
116 defendant.
117 6. Monitoring and evaluating the achievement of each
118 defendant's program goals.
119 7. Forging partnerships among the veterans treatment court
120 programs, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the
121 Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs, public agencies, and
122 community-based organizations to generate local support and
123 enhance the effectiveness of the veterans treatment court
124 program.
125 (b) In adopting policies and procedures under this
Page 5 of 14
CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
hb7023-00
F L O R I D A H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S
HB 7023 2021
126 section, the court shall consult nationally recognized best
127 practices related to the key components of veterans treatment
128 court programs.
129 (7) SUPPLEMENTAL POLICIES AND PROCEDURES OF VETERANS
130 TREATMENT COURT PROGRAMS.—A veterans treatment court program may
131 adopt supplemental policies and procedures to:
132 (a) Refer a defendant with a medical need to an
133 appropriate health care provider or refer a defendant for
134 appropriate assistance, including assistance with housing,
135 employment, nutrition, mentoring, education, and driver license
136 reinstatement.
137 (b) Otherwise encourage participation in the veterans
138 treatment court program.
139 (8) ELIGIBILITY.—
140 (a) A defendant may participate in a veterans treatment
141 court program if he or she is approved by the state attorney, in
142 consultation with the court, and meets the following criteria:
143 1. The defendant has a service-related mental health
144 condition, service-related traumatic brain injury, service-
145 related substance use disorder, or service-related psychological
146 problem.
147 2. The defendant's participation in the veterans treatment
148 court program is in the interest of justice and of benefit to
149 the defendant and the community.
Page 6 of 14
CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
hb7023-00
F L O R I D A H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S
HB 7023 2021
150 (b) In making the determination under subparagraph (a)2.,
151 the state attorney, in consultation with the court, must
152 consider:
153 1. The nature and circumstances of the offense charged.
154 2. The special characteristics or circumstances of the
155 defendant and any victim or alleged victim, including any
156 recommendation of the victim or alleged victim.
157 3. The defendant's criminal history and whether the
158 defendant previously participated in a veterans treatment court
159 program or similar program.
160 4. Whether the defendant's needs exceed the treatment
161 resources available to the veterans treatment court program.
162 5. The impact on the community of the defendant's
163 participation and treatment in the veterans treatment court
164 program.
165 6. Recommendations of any law enforcement agency involved
166 in investigating or arresting the defendant.
167 7. If the defendant owes restitution, the likelihood of
168 payment during the defendant's participation in the veterans
169 treatment court program.
170 8. Any mitigating circumstances.
171 9. Any other circumstances reasonably related to the
172 defendant's case.
173 (9) LIBERAL CONSTRUCTION.–The provisions of this section
174 shall be liberally construed.
Page 7 of 14
CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
hb7023-00
F L O R I D A H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S
HB 7023 2021
175 (10) NO RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE.–This section does not create
176 a right of a veteran or servicemember to participate in a
177 veterans treatment court program The chief judge of each
178 judicial circuit may establish a Military Veterans and
179 Servicemembers Court Program under which veterans, as defined in
180 s. 1.01; veterans who were discharged or released under any
181 condition; servicemembers, as defined in s. 250.01; individuals
182 who are current or former United States Department of Defense
183 contractors; and individuals who are current or former military
184 members of a foreign allied country, who are charged or
185 convicted of a criminal offense, and who suffer from a military-
186 related mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse
187 disorder, or psychological problem can be sentenced in
188 accordance with chapter 921 in a manner that appropriately
189 addresses the severity of the mental illness, traumatic brain
190 injury, substance abuse disorder, or psychological problem
191 through services tailored to the individual needs of the
192 participant. Entry into any Military Veterans and Servicemembers
193 Court Program must be based upon the sentencing court's
194 assessment of the defendant's criminal history, military
195 service, substance abuse treatment needs, mental health
196 treatment needs, amenability to the services of the program, the
197 recommendation of the state attorney and the victim, if any, and
198 the defendant's agreement to enter the program.
199 Section 2. Subsection (2) of section 43.51, Florida
Page 8 of 14
CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
hb7023-00
F L O R I D A H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S
HB 7023 2021
200 Statutes, is amended to read:
201 43.51 Problem-solving court reports.—
202 (2) For purposes of this section, the term "problem-
203 solving court" includes, but is not limited to, a drug court
204 pursuant to s. 397.334, s. 948.01, s. 948.06, s. 948.08, s.
205 948.16, or s. 948.20; a veterans treatment military veterans'
206 and servicemembers' court program pursuant to s. 394.47891, s.
207 948.08, s. 948.16, or s. 948.21; a mental health court program
208 pursuant to s. 394.47892, s. 948.01, s. 948.06, s. 948.08, or s.
209 948.16; a community court pursuant to s. 948.081; or a
210 delinquency pretrial intervention court program pursuant to s.
211 985.345.
212 Section 3. Paragraph (a) of subsection (5) of section
213 910.035, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
214 910.035 Transfer from county for plea, sentence, or
215 participation in a problem-solving court.—
216 (5) TRANSFER FOR PARTICIPATION IN A PROBLEM-SOLVING
217 COURT.—
218 (a) For purposes of this subsection, the term "problem-
219 solving court" means a drug court pursuant to s. 948.01, s.
220 948.06, s. 948.08, s. 948.16, or s. 948.20; a veterans treatment
221 military veterans'