Clerk: Court programs can assist offenders

Published 3:00 am Friday, December 9, 2016

The Troy Municipal Court had a busy docket on Wednesday, including many simple traffic violations according to court administrator Neal Armstrong.

But first-time offenders with simple traffic tickets could actually take advantage of court programs in place to remove the case, as well as keeping tickets from the eyes of insurance agencies.

Some people in more specific situations can also take part in some other programs to remove or seal cases against them.

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Armstrong detailed five programs that the local court offers.

“The city council has approved these programs throughout the years to help people coming through the court system,” Armstrong said.

The first program Armstrong spoke about was the Veterans’ Court, a pretrial program for those who have served in the armed forces.

“This program is for veterans clinically diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder),” Armstrong said. “We help these vets get the services they need from the VA in hopes that they won’t commit the crimes again. If they finish certain goals and objectives, the city will choose not to prosecute.”

A similar pretrial program is available for minors with first-time charges of possession or consumption of alcohol.

“If they qualify, they have to complete 20 hours community service, a court referral program and classes on alcohol and drugs,” Armstrong said. “The city council approved this pre-trial program because people were being sent for an education at the university and leaving with a criminal record because they made a bad decision to drink a beer, which hurt their chances of getting a job.”

The city’s defensive driving programs will not only clear a simple traffic ticket for first-time offenders, it will also keep the ticket from showing up to insurance agencies.

“If they complete all requirements, the city will choose not to prosecute and insurance companies won’t find out about the ticket,” Armstrong said.

The adults go through a defensive driving program that details how to drive more safely, while teens go through the Teen Victims Impact Program, which details the dangers of texting and driving among other lessons.

“This course keeps the parents’ insurance from rising and the class is incredible,” Armstrong said.

Finally, as required by state law, the court can grant youthful offender status to first-time offenders under the age of 21.

“Whether it’s assault, shoplifting fighting, DUI– whatever– If you’re under 21, you can apply for youthful offender status,” Armstrong said. “If granted, that case is sealed. Nobody can see it get copies of it, not even a potential employer.”

“Those are things the public needs to know about before they walk into the courtroom.”