Smith County is ready to implement a veterans treatment court for honorably discharged veterans facing felony charges.
The Council of Judges voted last week to have the 241st District Court hear the cases that qualify for the felony specialty court.
Officials agreed to keep the caseload and docket small, to no more than five cases while the court gets started.
The first case the state will prosecute is a felony evasion case.
The veterans court for misdemeanor cases started in 2011.
The Council of Judges determined those cases will remain in County Court-at-Law 2.
To be a candidate for the court, the veteran must be evaluated for psychological, chemical dependency and other issues that can be addressed through treatment and supportive services.
If veterans successfully complete the programs and treatments for the court an expunction is granted.
The Smith County Veterans Court coordinator works in cooperation with Veterans Affairs and the Smith County District Attorney’s Office with the veteran to determine eligibility.
Minimum eligibility for the veterans treatment court is to be a veteran of active duty, National Guard or Reserve Armed Forces with an honorable discharge who has one or more of the following conditions: service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, substance use disorder or other mental health problems.
The veteran must be a first-time offender.
Veterans treatment courts in Texas started in 2009. Since then, at least 28 veterans courts are hearing cases throughout the state, according to the governor's office.