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First time offenders get second chance with DuPage program

November 18th, 2012 at 10:16 am

DuPage County has put in place a new way of thinking for first-time offenders. The new program allows these first time offenders to have a felony conviction wiped from their record.

Last week, State’s Attorney Bob Berlin announced a pretrial diversion. Berlin said the new program would do more to rehabilitate low-level felons and free up resources to fight for intense, violent crime. Since Berlin took office two years ago, this new program is based off of similar efforts in Kane, McHenry, and Cook counties, but it slightly unique.

To be eligible, defendants must be first time offenders charged with nonviolent felonies including retail theft or forgery, and be referred for the program by their own attorney or the state’s attorney’s office. Eligible candidates are them interviewed by a program director, after which they appear before a panel of citizens. In each setting, the defendant must take responsibility for his or her crime. A recommendation is made by the panel, and Berlin’s office makes the final decision whether or not to accept the candidate.

The panel will be made up of about 20 community volunteers that will divide the cases according to Berlin. Nothing that the panel learns about the defendants can be used against them if they are not accepted.

If candidates make it through the entire process, they must plead guilty and agree to conditions conditions that will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Conditions may include community serive, counseling, drug tests, employment or education, etc.

After one year, if the defendant has met all the expectations, the charges will be dismissed.

The fee to apply to the program is $50 and those accepted must pay $750, which goes to the DuPage County general fund.

A difference between this program and that of Kane County is the defendants must plead guilty before completing the process, whereas in Kane, defendants plead after completing the program. Kane has an 80 percent success rate and Berlin is hoping for even better.

If you have a mark on your record that you would like to be dismissed that follow the guidelines of this program contact a local attorney that can help you. Again, it must be a first time, nonviolent offense. For more information to find out if you are eligible, contact The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley in Rolling Meadows, IL.

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Written by Staff Writer

November 18th, 2012 at 10:16 am

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