The hope of any good defense is that the charges will be dropped or you will be acquitted at trial, but many times, this just doesn't and can't happen because the evidences overwhelming. That's where the benefit of an experienced criminal defense attorney comes: with experience follows the knowledge of and skills to attain alternative sentencing. Alternative sentencing can help you avoid incarceration. It can also provide an opportunity for rehabilitation, among other things.
At Dolci & Weiland, it is our criminal defense attorneys' mission to prove your innocence or help you get a second chance – but that second chance sometimes comes in the form of alternative sentencing. We use our extensive understanding of Illinois sentencing guidelines to help you get the best outcome in your unique circumstance. It may be through a plea deal or by taking your case through to trial. No matter what, throughout the course of your criminal case, we will be there advocating your rights, defending your case, and keeping you informed so that you can make the best decision for yourself.
Here's what to expect if you decide to pursue alternative sentencing in your case.
What is alternative sentencing in Illinois?
Alternative sentencing in Illinois, according to 730 ILCS 110/16, is a way for the state to:
(a) Provide a continuum of sanctions to increase sentencing options to the judiciary of the State;
(b) Enable the Courts to utilize programs which enhance the offender's ability to become a contributing member to his or her community and which will increase the benefits to victims and the communities through restitution;
(c) Increase sentencing alternatives for less serious felony offenders and delinquent juveniles in order to reserve prisons and jail beds for serious violent offenders.
Alternative sentencing options are both local and standard across the state.
Alternative Sentencing in Cook County & DuPage County
Alternative sentencing requires a convicted person to follow strictly to the terms and conditions of the alternative program. Failure to do so may result in withdrawal of the alternative in place of the original and tougher sentence. In Illinois, the most comprehensive alternative to sentencing is deferred prosecution.
Deferred Prosecution in Illinois
Different counties throughout the Chicago metro area, including Cook and DuPage Counties, have their own deferred prosecution programs (also known as Second Chance Programs). These programs encompass most if not all of what constitutes the alternative to sentencing.
In Cook and DuPage Counties, deferred prosecution is a program used to divert typically first-time offenders of nonviolent crimes from the criminal justice system. If the alleged offender completes the program successfully, the charges will be dismissed and any related records can be expunged.
Cook County Deferred Prosecution
In Cook County, persons are eligible if he or she:
- has not participated in the program before;
- has not been charged with the delivery, intent to deliver, or manufacture of drugs;
- does not have a prior conviction that is either a violent felony or a misdemeanor deemed violent by the court.
To qualify as a violent offense, a person (the victim) must have endured bodily harm through force or the threat of bodily harm.
Offenders who are offered this deferred prosecution are done so only after selected by the assistant state's attorney from the Cook County Branch Court. The victim of the crime must also approve of the offender's participation.
If the offender does not comply with all the terms and conditions of the program or commits an offense during the program, he or she will likely be expelled. As such, the felony will remain and the offender will return to court for sentencing.
DuPage County Deferred Prosecution
More aptly known as Pre-Trial Diversion Program in DuPage County, this program serves the same purpose as the deferred prosecution program in Cook County: to provide a way for eligible persons to avoid a conviction and the sentencing and criminal record that follows a conviction. To qualify for the program, you must:
- be a first-time offender
- have not committed a violent offense; and
- be approved by the State's Attorney.
You cannot, however, be a part of the program if you:
- had a prior conviction (felony or misdemeanor) or adult felony arrest;
- are currently on probation, under supervision, or on conditional discharge;
- are an active gang member;
- committed an offense out on bond;
- are in the United States illegally; or
- are charged with any of the following:
- violent, domestic, or sex offense;
- crime against a child or an elderly person;
- a non-probationable offense;
- a drug or alcohol related offenses, including DUIs;
- an offense using a weapon;
- identity theft; or
- a traffic offense.
If you are approved for the program, you must pay for the intake and all fees associated with it. You must also completely comply with the terms and conditions. If you violate the terms, the charges will not be dismissed and your case will return to court for a sentencing hearing. Then sentencing could be far worse than if you had been sentenced initially without accepting an alternative sentencing program.
Components of Illinois Deferred Prosecution
Deferred prosecution programs in Illinois can include different things, like:
- Drug or Alcohol Treatment Programs (e.g., Rehabilitation Alternative Probation – RAP – in Cook County)
- Community Service
- Anger Management
Deferred prosecution, even if you are eligible and offered it, is not for everyone. Some persons charged with crimes may stand a good chance fighting the charges rather than risk making a mistake on the program. For other people, it really is a good opportunity.
Speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney in DuPage County or Cook County familiar with alternative sentencing programs will be key to making sure you make an informed decision about what to do: accept the offer or fight the charge.
Contact an Experienced Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been arrested for a criminal offense in Cook or Dupage Counties, you may wonder what to expect if found guilty. Don't waste time worrying yourself, speak to an experienced, resourceful criminal defense attorney. If the evidence against you is overwhelming but alternative sentencing is offered, your attorney will thoroughly review your options with you.
Contact us today to learn more about our approach and your options.