Law You Can Use: Ohio Law Allows Conviction Alternative for Eligible Offenders

Bilfield & Associates

Ohio Law Allows Conviction Alternative for Eligible Offenders

Q: What is IILC?

A: Intervention in Lieu of Conviction (IILC) was created by the Ohio legislature to give certain offenders an opportunity to receive court-supervised treatment instead of a conviction and sentence when they have been charged with specified lower-level offenses.

Q: Which offenders are eligible for IILC?

A: The only offenders eligible for this treatment program are those who: 1) are drug or alcohol addicted; 2) suffer from a diagnosed mental illness; 3) have an intellectual disability (such as mental retardation); or 4) are victims of human trafficking.

Further, the offender’s criminal record is important. Offenders with a prior violent felony conviction are never eligible for IILC, but offenders with other prior felony convictions are eligible if the prosecutor in the current case agrees.

Finally, offenders who have participated in IILC previously (in any court or jurisdiction) are not eligible.

Q: What types of criminal charges are eligible for IILC?

A: IILC is only available for those charged with certain misdemeanor or felony criminal offenses, such as theft, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, passing bad checks, misuse of a credit card, forgery and certain specific drug offenses

Offenders are NOT eligible for IILC if they are charged with:

1. 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree felonies;

2. crimes of violence or specifically identified felony drug offenses (such as corrupting others and illegal manufacture of drugs);

3. crimes subject to mandatory prison or jail time under Ohio law; or

4. crimes against the elderly, youth under age 13, or peace officers in the course of their employment.

Q: How is an offender considered for IILC?

A: Offenders who are interested in IILC and who appear eligible must undergo an assessment with a certified addiction services provider, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or other credentialed professional, as ordered by the court. A written report of the assessment is provided to the court and includes a recommended treatment and/or intervention plan.

The court then holds a hearing. An offender who is found eligible pleads guilty to the charged crime, waives all of his or her constitutional rights to trial, and enters the program WITHOUT BEING FOUND GUILTY. The court will then “stay” (stop) the court proceedings and order the offender to comply with all appropriate treatment and probationary terms as ordered.

Q: How does an offender successfully complete IILC?

A: To successfully complete IILC, an offender must abstain from drugs and alcohol for 12 consecutive months, participate in treatment and recovery services, submit to random drug and alcohol testing, as well as any other terms the court deems appropriate. In addition to drug and/or alcohol treatment, other requirements may include educational programs, counseling, community service, making financial restitution to the victim and weekly in-court reviews.

If the participant completes all court-ordered IILC requirements, the court will dismiss the original charges. Also, the offender can ask the court to seal the records of arrest and court proceedings. The court can order the records to be sealed if the offender meets the legal requirements for sealing of records.

Many courts include IILC as an option in a specific “specialized docket,” such as a drug or mental health court.

Q: What happens to offenders who do not successfully complete IILC?

A: If an individual fails the IILC program, the court must find the offender guilty. The court then sentences the offender according to the identified penalties for the crime with which he or she was charged.

Q: What are the benefits of IILC?

A: Jails in many communities have overcrowding and funding issues, making alternative sentencing necessary. Statistics show that treatment reduces crime and at a lower cost than other sentencing options. In addition, IILC provides long-term benefits to the offender, such as the possibility of having the charge sealed without a conviction. Offenders involved in court-supervised IILC usually have access to community treatment services (residential and outpatient) and other educational programs (such as parenting classes). Normally, such programs have significant waiting periods and may be essentially unavailable to those outside IILC. Finally, intensive court-supervised structure often provides the necessary support for offenders suffering with drug or alcohol addictions.

This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). It was prepared by Hon. Joy Malek Oldfield, a municipal court judge and the presiding judge of a drug court in Akron, with an IILC track. Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.

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