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Recent Changes in Ohio's Intervention in Lieu of Conviction ("ILC") Statute

For the second time this year, Ohio has expanded its Intervention in Lieu of Conviction ("ILC") statute, once again benefitting defendants across the State. Effective on October 29, 2018, the new ILC statute gives a person countless opportunities to enroll in ILC. In other words, even if a person has previously been given an opportunity for ILC, the court now has the discretion to permit a defendant to enroll into the program again.

Ohio's ILC statute changed earlier this year when it removed its mandatory revocation policy upon any violation of ILC terms and conditions. Instead, the statute gave a judge the discretion as to whether to revoke the defendant's ILC upon a violation. Common ILC violations include new criminal charges, failing a drug or alcohol test, and missing required probation meetings. 

What Is ILC?

ILC is a procedural arrangement whereby certain offenders charged with certain crimes may receive assistance or treatment to avoid a felony conviction. It is not designed as punishment; rather, it is an opportunity for people to address the underlying issues that contributed to their criminal charges and in turn, receive a dismissal of his or her criminal charges.

The court is not required to grant ILC to a defendant, even a first-time offender. Instead, the statute gives a judge the discretion to grant the defendant a treatment opportunity in exchange for a dismissal of the criminal charge. 

How Does It Work?

The defendant must initiate the process by filing a motion for ILC containing specific language outlined in the ILC statute. If granted, the defendant will undergo an ILC evaluation and if deemed eligible, he or she will plead guilty to the offense. At this point, the judge withholds a finding of guilt and any sentence he or she may impose. Instead, the defendant enrolls into a treatment program. If the defendant successfully completes his or her treatment program, the criminal charge is ultimately dismissed and the defendant avoids a conviction and is never sentenced. Upon dismissal, the defendant is immediately eligible to file a motion to seal the criminal charge (i.e., non-conviction) from his or her record. 

What Charges Are Eligible for ILC?

Not all defendants are eligible for ILC. Offenders with a felony offense of violence on their record are not eligible. Further, the offense with which the offender is charged cannot be a first, second, or third degree felony, an offense of violence, OVI, aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault, or any offense carrying a mandatory prison term. 

Conclusion

Even though ILC's eligible offense list has remained nearly the same over the years, Ohio continues to enact new policies that permit judges to grant abundant treatment opportunities to defendants. Judges use discretion in allowing defendants who are addicted to drugs and alcohol to get the treatment they need while at the same time, maximizing their chances of avoiding a criminal conviction.

If you have questions about ILC, please feel free to contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Rittgers & Rittgers.

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