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Cook County Program Helps Non-Violent Offenders Avoid Conviction

Posted on in Theft

Chicago criminal defense attorneysOver the last three decades or so, the approach to crime in the United States has changed dramatically. In the past, communities have tried to fight criminal behavior with harsh penalties and long prison sentences. While the overall crime rate in the United States is lower than it was 20 or 30 years ago, the hardline approach to crime has—in the eyes of many—only served to fill our prisons and perpetuate a criminal lifestyle among convicted offenders. In an effort to stop the cycle of crime, Cook County introduced a program in 2011 that allows certain individuals accused of shoplifting, retail theft, and certain other non-violent crimes to avoid a conviction and prevent them from falling into a criminal lifestyle.

Deferred Prosecution Program

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office developed the Deferred Prosecution Program (DPP) as an alternative to traditional conviction and sentencing for adults charged with certain felonies. As a diversionary program, the DPP is intended to address the issues that led the person to commit the offense and to help them modify their behavior to avoid future crimes. To be considered for Deferred Prosecution, a criminal suspect must:

  • Be charged with an eligible, non-violent offense including theft, retail theft, forgery, burglary, possession of burglary tools, drug possession, and possession of stolen property;
  • Have no prior felony convictions;
  • Have no prior conviction for a violent misdemeanor offense; and
  • Have never participated in the DPP.

If the State’s Attorney determines that a defendant is eligible for the DPP, the criminal case is essentially put on hold for 12 months. During that time, the defendant must actively participate an intensive program of education, community service, and restitution as appropriate. Upon successful completion of the program in accordance with terms set by the State’s Attorney, the charges against the defendant will be dismissed. The defendant will then have the opportunity to expunge the arrest from his or her record.

Deferred Prosecution Helps Retail Theft Suspects

According to a study conducted by researchers at Loyola University, more than a quarter of all participants in the DPP were charged with retail theft—far more than any other offense. The same study also found that the success rate for the program hovers near 70 percent and that the re-arrest rate for program participants is slightly lower than that of those who go through standard criminal proceedings.

If you have been charged with shoplifting or retail theft, we can help you determine your eligibility for Deferred Prosecution. Contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney to learn more about your available options. Call 773-276-5541 for a free consultation at Luisi Legal Group today.

 

Sources:

http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.nwsba.org/resource/resmgr/imported/Cook%20County%20States%20Attorneys%20Office%20Deferred%20Prosecution%20Program.pdf

http://www.icjia.state.il.us/articles/evaluation-of-the-deferred-prosecution-program

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