For misdemeanor cases in District Court, a first-time offender with limited to no criminal history may be able to avoid prosecution and obtaining a criminal record by completing a diversion program. If the person successfully completes the program, the charge(s) against them may be dropped and the case may not be prosecuted. The Office of the State’s Attorney determines whether or not a person is eligible for a diversion program. Here’s a look at each program:
- Bad Check Program: The program, which has been active for the last decade, has helped business owners receive more than $10 million dollars in restitution. Vendors have the ability to opt into the program. Upon doing so, the business can forward the bad check case to the program and attempts will be made to collect the debt. Once an individual is notified of the bad check, they have 10 days to rectify the debt or they will face criminal prosecution.
- Driving Diversion Program: A first-time offender charged with Driving While Suspended or Driving Without a License has the option of attending a 4-hour diversion class. The fee for the class is $230. If the offender has obtained a valid driver’s license and completed the class, the charge of Driving While Suspended or Driving Without a License and up to five tickets may be removed from their driving record. Anyone with a prior conviction that could have resulted in incarceration is ineligible for the program.
- Marijuana Diversion Program: An offender who has been charged with possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana for the first time may be offered a choice of 24 hours of community service or a 6-hour class. Participants must remain drug-free and are subject to random urinalysis. Participants must have a minimal prior record without DUI convictions.
- Theft Diversion Program: Individuals who have been charged with a misdemeanor theft under $1,000 (usually shoplifting offenses) are eligible for this program. If the offender attends a 6-hour class and pays the $100 class fee, the defendant will not be prosecuted.
- Mediation Program: The program is located in the County Administration Building and all parties must agree to participate in the mediation before they can be deemed eligible for the program. Cases subject to mediation include assaults, malicious destruction of property or trespass charges (in which participants all live in the same neighborhood or work in the same location). Mediation does not accept cases involving family members.