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Treatment Option For People Accused Of Felonies

The Ohio Revised Code provides people charged with specific offenses the option to receive assistance and/or treatment in order avoid a felony conviction. Intervention in lieu of conviction (“ILC”) is available in certain cases where the offender’s drug or alcohol usage or mental illness was a factor leading to his or her criminal offense. ILC is not designed as punishment, but instead is an opportunity for certain offenders to address the underlying issues that contributed to their criminal charges.

Recent Expansion Of ILC Eligibility

Although the ILC statute has existed since 2004, the Ohio legislature has in recent years expanded the program to include more types of offenders and offenses. Prior to the recent expansion, multiple offenders, defendants facing drug trafficking charges, and offenders whose mental illness contributed to their commission the offense were not eligible for ILC. The recent expansion allows these individuals to enter into ILC.

ILC Exceptions

Not every offender or type of offense is eligible for ILC. Generally, the offender must have no prior felony record and must not have completed ILC or a similar program previously. There are exceptions to this eligibility requirement for offenders with a non-violent felony on their record, but in these cases the prosecutor must specifically approve the offender’s entry into ILC. Further, the offender generally must be charged with a non-violent fourth or fifth degree felony. If there is a victim in the case, the victim must be younger than 65 years-old. Despite these exceptions, a large number of people who have substance abuse or mental health issues and who are charged with low-level theft, drug possession or drug trafficking charges are excellent candidates for ILC.

Procedure

If an offender is accepted into ILC, then he or she enters a guilty plea to the charge(s) but that plea is held in abeyance and does not go into effect. The defendant is then placed into a treatment program designed to address the drug or alcohol or mental health issue. This program and period of supervision typically contains rules similar to being on probation, and also requires the defendant to abstain from drugs and alcohol for one year. If the defendant successfully completes ILC then the case is dismissed without a finding of guilt or conviction and can be immediately sealed. Conversely, if the defendant fails to adhere to the treatment program or violates the rules of supervision then the defendant is found guilty of the offense(s) and proceeds to sentencing.

Intervention in lieu of conviction is just one option an experienced criminal defense attorney can pursue for individuals facing felony charges. Please feel free to contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Rittgers & Rittgers for a free consultation and to see whether ILC is right for you.

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