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Deferred Prosecution in Ohio: What You Need to Know

Deferred Prosecution in Ohio: What You Need to Know
March 18, 2019 Shannon Dawes
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Everyone makes mistakes. The problem is, some mistakes have greater consequences than others. Some mistakes are illegal and expose you to the threat of costly fines, periods of incarceration in jail, and other negative consequences. Fortunately for some, Ohio permits prosecutors to set up deferred prosecution programs within their jurisdictions for people who are like you: who have little to no criminal history, who are not charged with serious offenses, who are remorseful for their actions, and for whom a conviction would impose a significant hardship to rehabilitating yourself and getting your life back in order.

Basically, with a pre-trial diversion program, the person charged with an offense agrees to refrain from further criminal activity, to pay costs and fees, and to complete other terms within a specified period of time. If the person charged does so, then at the end of the program the charges against the person will be dismissed without a criminal conviction being entered against him or her. These programs are not as straightforward as they may sound, however. You should be aware of the following:

  • Not all jurisdictions have a pre-trial diversion program. Ohio law does not require a prosecutor’s office to create a pre-trial diversion program, meaning there may be some jurisdictions in Ohio that do not offer this sort of program to some criminal defendants. Some counties may not create a program given that successful programs may require staffing and/or resources that exceed a particular county’s capabilities. It never hurts to ask, though, if a particular county has such a program.
  • There are limits as to who may qualify for such programs. The law gives prosecutors a fair amount of discretion in crafting pre-trial diversion programs and in to whom such programs are offered. However, Ohio law does impose some restrictions on prosecutors by limiting the type of people who can receive the benefit of a pre-trial diversion. For example, individuals who have previous convictions, who are charged with certain serious offenses, and/or whom the prosecutor believes are likely to reoffend and commit new crimes in the future are not eligible for a pre-trial diversion program.
  • The pre-trial diversion program is available before trial – not after. As the name implies, those who are wanting to take advantage of a pre-trial diversion program (where the same is available) must do so before their cases go to trial. Some jurisdictions may impose a time limitation on how quickly someone must apply or request a pre-trial diversion. In any event, you will not be able to enter into a pre-trial diversion program once you have entered a plea to the charges or once you have gone to trial and have been convicted.
  • Pre-trial diversion is not a “slap on the wrist.”Although it may seem like pre-trial diversion is a way for those charged with crimes to skate away from any accountability for their actions, the precise opposite is true. Failing to live up to your obligations under a pre-trial diversion program by failing to pay fees or being convicted of a new criminal offense while on diversion may be relevant and persuasive evidence that a harsher sentence should be imposed on you if your diversion is revoked and you are convicted of the criminal charges.

Contact Dawes Legal, LLC to Discuss a Pre-Trial Diversion

While a pre-trial diversion may be the best solution to your pending criminal case, it is important to fully understand the implications of this decision. Speak with Dawes Legal, LLC about your case and the resolutions available to you: call (614) 733-9999.