Effective April 12, 2021, Ohio is again modifying its intervention in lieu of conviction (“ILC”) statute. ILC provides for a program allowing certain categories of offenders to receive assistance and/or treatment in order avoid the ramifications of a felony conviction. It is not designed as punishment, but instead is an opportunity for certain offenders to address the underlying issues that contributed to their criminal charges and, in turn, receive a dismissal of his or her criminal charges. For more information on ILC, see our previous blog posts:
- Treatment Option For People Accused Of Felonies
- Recent Changes in Ohio’s Intervention in Lieu of Conviction (“ILC”) Statute
What are the new ILC changes?
Under the current version of the statute, certain low level felony sexual offenses are eligible for ILC so long as the defendant meets the criteria. This included offenses such as attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning, and lower level child pornography charges. However, the amended law explicitly states that all felony sexual offenses are not eligible for ILC.
From a defense attorney’s perspective, this is highly discouraging as ILC would offer individuals charged with these crimes an opportunity to receive treatment in return for avoiding a felony conviction and the mandatory sexual offender registration accompanying it. This is also discouraging as the recent trend in the legislature with respect to ILC has been to expand the program rather then make it more restrictive.
Another change in the new law, though, that is beneficial to defendants is that a judge is required to now presume that an eligible defendant is appropriate for ILC unless he or she finds and articulates specific reasons why the defendant would not be appropriate for the program. Thus, this change should create more opportunities for defendants as the law favors them being placed into ILC.
Changes to expungement laws
The bill also expands the number of felonies an individual may have sealed off their record. While the law remains the same that defendants can have up to five low-level no violent offenses expunged, it has expanded to include now two (as opposed to one) felony three and lower non-violent offenses. This is great news for defendants seeking to rebuild their lives following a conviction and goes hand in hand with what was mentioned about legislative trends.
The new law also shortens the time one must wait to seal a low level felony conviction. Currently, an individual must wait three years after the case is complete to seal an eligible fourth or fifth degree felony. The new law shortens that timeframe to one year. Third degree felonies still require a three year wait after the conclusion of their case.