Veterans who have been arrested may now have pro-bono representation


Melissa Puryear

The Vet Center sets up a booth on campus to offer services to Bakersfield College veterans.

Melissa Puryear, Managing Editor

Veterans who have been arrested may have pro-bono representation through a fairly new program offered by the Veteran’s Justice Outreach Program. Randy Dickow, a veteran and Bakersfield College alumnus, was on BC campus on April 19 to introduce himself and his services to veteran students.

Dickow is also a pro-bono criminal defense attorney who has practiced criminal law for 22 years in Bakersfield. He works exclusively for veterans who may find themselves in legal trouble. Dickow said, “we’ll be here once a month …and I’ll meet with any student who may have a criminal case pending in Kern County as a vet and we can help them.”

The Veteran’s Justice Program is a six-year program which identifies veterans who would be a good match for alternative treatment instead of incarceration. The goal is to provide a means for helping veterans live quality lives that facilitate recovery’s success, according to Dickow.

Six years ago, Dickow said they started a program that offers mitigation of punishment. A veteran would need to meet certain criteria, which are based on medical records that can establish a connection between a veteran’s medical history, such as suffering from PTSD, PTI, military sexual assault or any other mental health issue, and a veteran’s military enlistment.

According to Dickow, they have had a “no fail” success rate with the program since its inception.

Over 150 veterans have been represented, of which 56 veterans, Dickow represented. Of the remaining 94 veterans Dickow said they were assisted by private counsel he arranged or assisted through the public defender’s office.

He detailed how the program works. In the case of most misdemeanors, veterans’ sentences could be completely diverted to counseling programs. If a veteran is being charged with a felony, he or she could receive instead a reduced sentence or charge.

If a veteran has a pending criminal case, prior to the sentencing phase, Dickow advises the veteran to call the Veteran’s Center on Golden State Highway. for an appointment with him. He would go over the details of the case and determine a veteran’s eligibility for representation.

For those veterans who do not qualify, Dickow said that he will still do whatever he can do to help.

The two statutes that govern representation for vets is penal section 1170.9 which governs felonies and a misdemeanor diversion statute penal code section 1001.80, according to Dickow.

“Under the law it allows us to do our work. It works very well here. We’ve had a lot of support from the judges, from the district attorney’s office, and other defense attorneys,” said Dickow.

The Veteran’s Justice Outreach Program is but one component of the many services offered by the Veteran’s Center on Golden State Highway. They also offer veteran benefits assistance

veteran education benefits, veteran compensation and pension benefits, military retirement benefits, veteran survivor’s benefits, general counseling services, and specialized information and referral.