Ohio’s criminal justice system, for many, is a revolving door. A person is arrested, found guilty, serves out their sentence, is released, arrested again, and the process continues. The state’s pretrial diversion programs are meant to pull some people out of that cycle. That not only benefits you but society as well.

What Is a Pretrial Diversion Program?

Under state law, county prosecuting attorneys can create pretrial diversion programs using standards approved by the jurisdiction’s presiding judge. They hold first-time offenders at low risk of re-offending accountable for their actions.

They require participants to do many things, such as attending classes covering the issues and actions that led to their arrest. The goals are to teach offenders ways to change their behavior and avoid future arrests. Oriana House runs Summit County’s program, which may last six to 12 months.

Am I Eligible for Pretrial Diversion?

Eligibility is based on the criminal charge or the nature of the offense and the person’s background. State law lists the charges that prevent someone from using a program.

They include repeat and dangerous offenders as well as those facing many charges – including aggravated vehicular homicide, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, perjury, and bribery – unless the prosecuting attorney finds:

  • The accused didn’t cause, threaten, or intend serious physical harm to anyone
  • The offense’s circumstances are unlikely to happen again
  • The accused doesn’t have a record of delinquency or criminal activity
  • The accused led a law-abiding life for a substantial time before the alleged offense

Ineligible Offenses

Those involved in drug-related crimes aren’t eligible unless it involves a:

  • Misdemeanor, fifth- or fourth-degree felony possession of a controlled substance
  • A misdemeanor violation of laws against possessing drug abuse instruments, permitting drug abuse, or knowingly using or possessing with the purpose to use drug paraphernalia.

Other ineligible people include those accused of:

Another potential limitation of the program is alleged victims and the arresting officers may object to you going into the program. It’s possible that even if you meet the requirements, their testimony may prevent it from happening.

How Do I Get into a Pretrial Program?

The program goes through the prosecuting attorney’s office. It involves a request to be in the program, showing you’re eligible, discussing concerns the prosecutor may have, and making the case it’s in the community’s interest you be in a program.

What Are the Costs and Benefits of a Pretrial Program?

If you’re accepted into the diversion program, you must:

  • Plead guilty
  • Waive your constitutional right to a speedy trial
  • Agree not to use the prosecution passing the statute of limitations (the deadline to be charged)
  • Agree to pay supervision fees

If you’re not a citizen, pleading guilty could lead to your deportation. If you don’t successfully get through the program, you’ll face prosecution on the charges.

To get into the program, you must waive potential defenses, but the charges will be dismissed if you’re successful. You’ll put the situation behind you without the expense of a trial or the consequences that come with a plea bargain agreement.

Can I Be Thrown Out of a Pretrial Program?

There may be many rules you’ll need to follow. Failing to do so could end your opportunity to finish the program. Some of the requirements may be:

  • Paying for supervision services
  • Taking classes on preventing future crime involvement
  • Paying victims restitution
  • Random drug testing
  • Successful substance abuse treatment
  • Obeying laws and avoiding committing another crime

Violating these rules could get you removed from a pretrial program. Your lawyer can help you navigate any issues you may encounter.

What’s My Lawyer’s Role?

We will discuss the program with the prosecutor, lay out the facts, tell your side of the story, and make a case for why you should be in the program. We will explain to you what you need to do, the mistakes you must avoid, and try to work out any problems you have while participating.

Get the Help You Need from Attorneys You Can Trust

At Erb Legal, we are true client advocates. That includes making the case you should be in a pretrial diversion program so you can stay out of the criminal justice system.

If you’re facing charges and think you may qualify, call our office at 330-446-3606 to schedule a free consultation.

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