The Columbus City Attorney’s office recently announced a new shoplifting diversion program that combats the problem and helps offenders by determining the root causes of why a person is stealing.
Called “Helping Understand Barriers” (HUB), the program looks to address retail theft by focusing on helping offenders stop the cycle by identifying their needs. After acceptance into HUB, a screening tool will aid in identifying what services a slew of community partners can provide to help stop repeated offenses. Upon successful completion of the program, prosecutors will dismiss the charges and the record will be sealed.
Theft charges, even misdemeanor shoplifting, can’t be treated lightly. A criminal record can hurt your chances for employment, living where you want, or with custody matters. Because even repeat offenders are eligible for HUB it is a good alternative to pursue to avoid consequences of a possible conviction. By working with the experienced Columbus criminal lawyers of Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP you will know all your best options for dealing with retail theft charges. Contact us today at (614) 500-3836 for a free consultation.
How HUB Works
The new shoplifting diversion program works by having a trained community health worker administer a 36 question screening tool to a potentially eligible participant. The questionnaire determines barriers that may have contributed to the theft. For example, if a pair of children’s shoes were stolen, the screening tool will discover that a lack of resources to clothe a child in the home led to that action. Once the need is identified, the program will provide resources that can help meet the hardship so there is no need to steal. The program will also have access to substance abuse and mental health resources.
All information gathered by the community health worker is kept confidential. It is even stored in a HIPAA compliant database that is managed by the Healthcare Collaborative of Greater Columbus (HCGC).
Some of the partners participating in HUB, along with HCGC are as follows:
- Wellness First: Provides community health workers to assist with HUB and is part of the African American Alzheimer’s & Wellness Association.
- Franklin County Public Defender’s Office: Court-appointed legal representation for those that qualify.
- Franklin County Municipal Court and Clerk of Court: Providing office space for screening and placing the cases on special status until the program is complete.
- Relink.org: A free, user-friendly website that is an addiction recovery, human trafficking, and reentry resource tool.
- Social services agencies
The program, which is personally tailored, lasts six months. The goal is to connect you with resources that will improve your situation, including access to food resources, mental health or addiction treatment, or employment help. Currently the program is limited to incidents that occur at big box retail stores, but if successful could be expanded.
HUB is a unique opportunity to not only avoid prosecution on your charge but to address the issues that resulted in your arrest. Our criminal defense attorneys can work with the Franklin County Municipal Court to determine your eligibility. If for some reason you’re not a fit for the program, we will be at your side to get the best possible outcome for your case.
We Can Help Resolve Your Shoplifting Charges
There’s no such thing as a simple or insignificant criminal charge, even misdemeanor theft. A criminal record can have serious consequences for employment, housing, even custody matters. If you’ve had a couple of brushes with the law for shoplifting, you may be eligible for a new diversion program. Our experienced Columbus criminal defense attorneys can walk you through your options in dealing with your charges. The quicker you speak to us, the better your potential outcome. Contact us today at (614) 500-3836 to schedule a free consultation.