Local Police Reports

Cook County State’s Attorney Alvarez Announces First-of-its-Kind ‘Deferred Prosecution Program’

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–April 6, 2011.  The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is implementing a new court diversion program that will enable non-violent felony offenders to avoid a felony conviction if they successfully complete an intensive alternative prosecution program aimed at giving younger first-time offenders a second chance, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced today.

The State’s Attorney’s Deferred Prosecution Program is a court diversion program designed for adult offenders who have no previous felony convictions and who have been charged with a specified non-violent felony offense.  It is the first program of its kind to be implemented by prosecutors in Cook County.

The program, which began last month, diverts eligible non-violent felony offenders into an intensive 12 month pre-indictment program.  The program requires the consent of the victim of the crime and the participants must voluntarily enter the program and complete all mandatory requirements during the course of their year-long participation.  Upon successful completion of the program, the felony charge will be dismissed by the State’s Attorney’s Office.

“It is clear that there are far too many cases in the criminal justice system and I think that prosecutors can play an important role in implementing new alternative sentencing measures that not only bring just results, but also provide non-violent offenders with a second chance,” Alvarez said.

Among the requirements for the program:

  • Defendant must be employed or must obtain a job.  Those that are not employed must complete 96 hours of community service.
  • Where applicable, defendant must make restitution to the victim or property owner impacted by their crime.
  • Defendant must not possess drugs, firearms or weapons or get arrested while in the program.
  • If they do not have a high school diploma, defendant must attend GED classes.
  • Where appropriate, offenders must participate in drug or alcohol treatment.
  • Offenders must attend all court dates and court-ordered appointments.

“This program is not designed to let anyone off the hook, but rather to hold the offender accountable with mandatory participation in intensive alternative court services programming,” Alvarez said.  “If the defendant is willing to acknowledge their crime and successfully complete the terms of our Deferred Prosecution Program, they can avoid the permanent consequences and stigma of a felony conviction.”

Once an offender has been accepted into the Deferred Prosecution Program and screened by the State’s Attorney’s office, Adult Probation Pre-Trial Services, and Treatment Alternatives for Special Clients (TASC), the case is given a 90-day status date to monitor the progress of the offender.

If the defendant violates any conditions of the program or fails to complete the program in the specified time frame, the case will proceed to a felony courtroom, where prosecution of the defendant will proceed as in all other criminal cases.

The program is being implemented with the cooperation and the assistance of Chief Judge Timothy Evans, Presiding Judge Paul Biebel, the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, Cook County Pre-Trial Services and T.A.S.C.

The State’s Attorney’s Office has the sole discretion of determining which individuals are offered participation in the program.  A defendant is not eligible for the program if they have been charged with a violent crime involving bodily harm, sexual conduct or possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon.  Among the crimes that are accepted in the program are retail theft, theft, forgery, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, burglary, possession of cannabis and other specified narcotics charges.

Cases assigned to the State’s Attorney’s Deferred Prosecution Program are being conducted at a special court call each Wednesday at 1:30 p.m at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building in Chicago.

Source: statesattorney.org