Felony Offender Program Gives First Time Offenders Opportunity to Avoid Conviction

A new Illinois law, effective January 1, 2013, gives first time felony offenders a chance to defer prosecution and avoid conviction. Eligible felonies include theft, retail theft, forgery, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, burglary, and possession of burglary tools. Eligible felony drug charges include possession (not delivery) of marijuana, controlled substances, and methamphetamine. Defendants charged with a violent offense are not eligible.

The prosecution must agree to waive prosecution and allow the offender admission to the program. Felony offenders chosen for the program will complete an intensive, alternative prosecution program that lasts 12 months. The conditions of the program are as follows:

– Defendant cannot violate any criminal statute;
– cannot possess a firearm or dangerous weapon;
– must make full restitution to victim or property owner;
– obtain employment or perform not less than 30 hours of eligible community service; and
– attend educational courses designed to prepare the defendant for obtaining a high school diploma, work toward passing the high school level test of General Educational Development (G.E.D.), or to work toward completing a vocational education program.

The statute can be found at 720 ILCS 5/5-6-3.3.

This new law is an important step in granting defendants an opportunity to start over with a clean record. For questions regarding eligibility, contact our office.