Richard Deed made a career out of his service in the United States Army. For the seven years preceding his discharge, he was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas where he met his now ex-wife Molly. He and Molly had a child two years after he moved there. He never imagined planting roots in Texas as he envisioned himself back in Nevada where he grew up. “I guess a year is not long enough, I didn’t know her as well I thought,” he says when referring to how, and when, his relationship with Molly dissolved.
After their divorce was final, Molly claimed that Mr. Deed had attacked her and quickly sought a protective order against him. He was arrested and ordered to complete a pretrial intervention program through the Bell County Veterans Treatment Court. Life seemed to be quickly rolling downhill as the charges resulted in Mr. Deed being booted out of the military.
A veterans’ treatment court serves a large segment of the justice-involved veteran population as opposed to business as usual: having all veterans appear before random judges who may or may not have an understanding of their unique experiences and issues. A veterans’ treatment court judge better understands the issues that a veteran may possibly be struggling with, such as substance addiction, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, or military sexual trauma. A veterans’ treatment court judge is also more familiar with the Veterans Health Administration, Veterans Benefits Administration, State Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans service organizations, and volunteer veteran mentors and how they can all assist veteran defendants.
Upon completion of the pretrial intervention program, Mr. Deed’s criminal case was dismissed, but his arrest record was still preventing him from getting the government job he desired as well as visitation with his child. Without work, he was living on limited means and facing the possibility of homelessness. To keep busy, he volunteered with local police and firefighters.
The Bell County Veterans Treatment court referred Mr. Deed to LSLA’s Belton branch office, where he sought the legal assistance he required to remove the arrest from his record so that he could find a job as well as start seeing his child. His case was accepted and a Petition for Expungement was filed on his behalf. His attorney argued that the assault charge should be dropped because there was no evidence to support it. The matter was set for hearing and Mr. Deed’s petition was granted, allowing his criminal arrest records to be expunged. Mr. Deed says he is “carefree of charges and now I can get my life back together. If it was not for legal aid, I would probably be in jail or in the system somewhere. I would probably be up a creek.”
*Names were changed to protect the identity of the individual(s).