Aftereffects of War Can Lead to Crime

The headlines are disturbing: A soldier allegedly slaughters over a dozen sleeping civilians near his unit’s base. Other servicemen are accused of turning their weapons on their own comrades. Although these cases sometimes fall under military jurisdiction, similarly grisly scenarios are playing out stateside, including murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults. Veterans – two million from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – are struggling to come to terms with the incredible stress of post-deployment life. The upshot is that criminal attorneys in Sarasota and around the U.S. may soon be dealing with the particular challenge of veteran clients.

The effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), once known as shell shock, are still not completely understood. PTSD was being documented long before the medical community gave it a name, but it’s been more widely studied since the Vietnam War. As a medical condition, it is sometimes used as a criminal defense, but it poses a particular challenge to attorneys and juries because its symptoms can vary widely between individuals. Indeed, the trauma experienced by soldiers in wartime can have strikingly different impacts; it’s often difficult to understand why one man can be completely altered by an event that has no effect whatsoever on his fellow troops.

But PTSD represents just one aspect of the legal issues facing criminal attorneys who defend accused veterans. Indeed, the complexities of representing veterans are extensive enough to warrant a new reference tool designed to help defense attorneys understand the issues surrounding veterans and the law. The Attorney’s Guide to Defending Veterans in Criminal Court, scheduled to be published in summer 2012, is a product of the National Veterans Foundation. It is aimed at giving criminal attorneys insight into the unique factors that lead to veterans’ engaging in criminal activity and prepare their cases with a better understanding of influences like PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and substance abuse that are a consequence of deployment and combat. Criminal attorneys in Sarasota and around the country who represent military veterans will no doubt find it to be a useful and necessary resource.

Ask a Sarasota veteran about returning to civilian life after a deployment, and he’ll no doubt talk about how difficult it was. For those who sustained combat injuries, the transition is even harder. Unfortunately, some soldiers won’t be able to make that adjustment, and may turn to drugs, reckless behavior, or even criminal activity. It’s a harsh reality that all participants in the justice system, especially criminal defense attorneys, will be dealing with for many years to come.

Criminal Attorneys Sarasota If you’re a Sarasota resident who has been charged with a crime, experienced criminal attorneys in Sarasota can help you defend your rights. The Law Offices of Wyndel G. Darvill offer professional, personal legal services for criminal cases. For a free case evaluation, call 941-309-5373 to schedule an appointment or visit us at


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