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Alternative Courts

The New York State Unified Court System implemented alternative courts to meet the challenges of such an expansive system. Also called problem-solving courts, these alternatives look to address the underlying issues that bring people into the court system. New York offers alternative courts for certain veteran offenders, offenders with mental health issues and substance abuse, to name a few.

Alternative courts differ depending on the problem they address. Mental health courts focus on rehabilitation and treatment, while adolescent diversion programs address the needs of children in the criminal justice system. Not every offender will qualify for the program, but completion may result in reduced or dismissed charges.   

Criminal Defense Attorney in Garden City

It’s vital you explore your legal options. Participating in problem-solving court may not only result in reduced or dismissed charges but help you get your life back on track. Stephanie Selloni is a relentless criminal defense attorney with years of experience navigating the New York criminal courts. She will evaluate the facts of your case and help you decide if an alternative court is right for your situation.

Call 516-972-1212 to explore your legal options. Law Office of Stephanie Selloni assists clients in areas such as Garden City, Eastchester and Middle Island.


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Mental Health Treatment Court

The increasing number of individuals with mental health conditions in the criminal justice system has an enormous impact. Diverting such individuals away from incarceration and towards more appropriate mental health care is an essential component to preventing unnecessary involvement in the criminal justice system.

New York offers various mental health treatment courts as a way to combat the growing number of mentally ill individuals behind bars. These mental health courts are devoted to improving court operations and the well-being of people with mental illness through mental health services and intensive supervision. Monthly drug screenings may be required, and medication may be checked by the court to ensure the participant is abiding by the treatment plan.  

Defendants with mental illness are usually referred to mental health court by their defense attorney, the judge or family members. Participation is voluntary, but not every offender is eligible. Eligibility varies by jurisdiction, but individuals with severe mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can participate. However, some courts may only accept individuals with mental illnesses with known treatment. 

Eligibility is also determined by the criminal charge. Most misdemeanor and non-violent crimes are accepted. Some mental health courts allow for charges to be dismissed or incarceration to be avoided if the participant completes the program.


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Adolescent Diversion Program

According to the New York Court System, between 40,000 and 50,000 young people between 16 and 17 are arrested and processed through the adult criminal justice system every year. The consequences of a criminal conviction at such a young age will have a devastating impact on a child’s ability to gain employment, complete their education and pursue other goals. 

Adolescent Diversion Parts (ADP) is designed to improve how the criminal justice system treats 16 and 17-year-old offenders charged with non-violent crimes. Through this program, the court has access to youth-specific sentencing options. These options include: 

  • Short-term social service interventions
  • Community service
  • Alternatives-to-Placement program

ADP is designed to promote accountability and help the child develop life skills. Compliance with the courts-imposed conditions are monitored by the ADP staff. Failing to abide by the conditions can result in further action by the court. 


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Veterans Court

The New York court system knows that some veterans may enter the criminal justice system under circumstances stemming from their time in the military. Rather than putting them behind bars and not addressing the underlying issues, the state allows certain individuals to attend veterans court. 

Veterans court is not its own entity. Instead, the program is offered within New York’s mental health and drug courts. This program provides veteran defendants struggling with mental illness or addiction the chance to get clean and seek the help they need. Like mental health and drug courts, veterans court takes a team-centered approach to address the need of the veteran.

Not all veterans are eligible for this alternative program. The eligibility requirements for veterans court include:

  • The individual served in the military and was honorably discharged
  • The pending charge is a violation or misdemeanor, though some felony charges may be eligible
  • The participant suffers from substance abuse or has a mental illness 

Visit our page on drug court to learn more about treatment options for veterans.


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Additional Resources

Problem Solving Courts | New York Court System – View a comprehensive list of the alternative courts offered in New York. By accessing the site, you can gain access to information about each program, court locations and other resources.

Veterans Treatment Court in New York State | NYS Health Foundation - Follow the link provided to view a policy brief over veterans treatment court. You can learn more about the structure of the court, benefits of treatment and court locations. The NYS Health Foundation is an organization focused on improving the health of New Yorkers through grants and policy changes. 


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Criminal Defense Lawyer in Nassau County

Were you recently charged with a crime? Do you suffer from substance abuse or mental illness? Depending on the facts of your case, you may be eligible for a diversion program. Any person who qualifies for an alternative program should contact legal representation. Stephanie Selloni will do everything in her power to persuade a judge you’d fare better in an alternative program than behind bars. 

Call 516-972-1212 to schedule a free case evaluation. Law Office of Stephanie Selloni is based in Nassau County but also serves clients in Westchester County and Suffolk County. 


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