Monday, October 15, 2012
State’s Attorney’s Office Unveils Pre-Trial Diversion Program
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin announced today that his office has launched a new Pre-Trial Diversion Program aimed at helping first-time, non-violent offenders keep a conviction from being permanently entered on their record.
“The idea behind the Pre-Trial Diversion Program is do divert certain cases from the regular Court call to help qualified applicants from having a felony record,” Berlin said. “In the past, qualifying applicants, non-violent offenders with no background, were charged as misdemeanors. Once charged, the defendants would pay their fine or serve their time and then be on their own. There was no monitoring of these individuals, no assistance given to them and quite frankly, no incentive to them to not re-offend. This new Program addresses these issues in an effort to help these individuals keep their record clean.”
In order to be accepted into the Program, a defendant must first be referred to the Program and meet with the Program’s Coordinator for an intake interview prior to their arraignment. If the defendant meets the requirements for acceptance, the Coordinator will schedule a date for the defendant to appear before a Citizens Panel. The Citizens Panel is comprised of members of the community who will meet with the applicant and make a recommendation to the State’s Attorney’s Office. The defendant will appear before the Panel where he or she must explain the offense and take responsibility. The Panel will then either recommend or not recommend the defendant’s participation in the Program. The State’s Attorney will then review the defendant’s application, along with the Panel’s recommendation, and either approve or reject the application. Once in the Program, the defendant will sign a Program Agreement and plead guilty to the charges against them. The Court however, will not sentence the defendant, but will continue the case to allow time for the defendant to complete the Program. Upon successful completion of the Program, the State’s Attorney will dismiss the charges against the defendant. If however, a defendant fails to comply with the conditions of the Program, they will be terminated from the Program and the case will return to Court for a sentencing hearing on the charges.
“Research has shown that diversion programs such as this can be very successful in making a difference in participant’s lives,” Berlin continued. “This Program will help participants understand what they did and will allow them to put it behind them and move on. In addition, this Program will provide a two-fold benefit to society. First, the Program provides an incentive for participants not to re-offend thereby reducing crime and secondly, it will allow my Assistants more time to concentrate their efforts on going after more violent criminals.”
To participate in the Program, participants must pay a non-refundable fee of $750.