One of the most frightening, stressful, and confusing situations in life is getting arrested for a criminal offense. A conviction can lead to a jail/prison sentence, fines, and a permanent criminal record that significantly disrupts your personal life and professional reputation.
Although it may be possible to prove your innocence, sometimes that is out of the question. However, you may still have an opportunity to avoid imprisonment and a criminal record—even if you are guilty of the crime.
Pre-trial diversion programs in Ohio give offenders who have been charged with relatively minor offenses a chance to avoid prosecution. Defendants must plead guilty to the crime which they were charged, then complete pretrial diversion requirements (i.e. meet certain conditions set by the court) during a probationary period to get their case dismissed.
Those who have been charged with a first-time, non-violent offense (either a misdemeanor or felony) are eligible to participate in the diversion program. Common crimes include theft, white-collar offenses, and underage consumption of alcohol.
Regarding minor drug crimes such possession, defendants may be eligible for “intervention in lieu of conviction.” This type of diversion program is also applicable to those who have committed crimes based on alcohol or drug dependence, such as theft of money or goods in order to purchase drugs.
For DUI offenders, they are not eligible for a pre-trial diversion program.
If a defendant meets all the requirements and doesn’t seem to pose a safety risk to the community or doesn’t appear to become a repeat offender, the prosecutors and courts are willing to accept them into the diversion program.
The following are the common conditions of a diversion program:
- Pay a fee for supervision services
- Take education classes about future crime prevention
- Pay restitution to victims
- Submit to random drug testing
- Obey laws and avoid committing another crime
Pre-trial diversion typically lasts up to one year. Once a defendant successfully completes the program, the criminal charges will be dismissed and the arrest will be expunged—providing you a clean record as if no crime ever occurred.
Remember, having a criminal record can make it difficult to obtain employment, find housing, apply for college, and take advantage of many opportunities life has to offer.