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One moment of bad judgment can lead to a lifetime of legal consequences, and that is especially true with theft & fraud crimes in Ohio. In Ohio, shoplifting, for example, is treated as theft and is a first-degree misdemeanor that could result in up to 180 days in jail. The degree of a theft offense is determined by the dollar value of the property stolen and the value ranges in Ohio are such that the theft of one item could lead to you facing felony charges. However, if it was your first offense and you have otherwise lived a life establishing good character, Ohio law does provide an option to help you avoid the worst legal outcomes by participating in a theft diversion program.
The Ohio Revised Code allows for pre-trial diversion programs as an alternative to bringing a defendant to trial. A pre-trial diversion program can be set up by the prosecuting attorney for adults who are accused of committing criminal offenses and whom the prosecuting attorney believes will probably not offend again. This type of program is ideal for first-time theft offenses. If you enter and successfully complete a pre-trial diversion program the charges against you can be dismissed.
Eligibility for pre-trial diversion and the exact details of the program are determined by the prosecuting attorney and approved by the presiding judge. Generally, a diversion program functions as a form of pre-trial probation where the defendant must obey all laws and agree to be subject to monitoring and drug testing for a predetermined period of time. If the defendant successfully completes the specified pre-trial diversion program the prosecuting attorney will recommend that the charges be dropped and the court will dismiss the charges upon the prosecuting attorney’s request. If a defendant fails to complete all the terms of the program the court can then bring the defendant to trial on the charges.
However, there are requirements for a defendant entering a pre-trial diversion program beyond meeting the terms of the program. A defendant seeking to enter a diversion program must agree in writing to waive certain rights including the right to a speedy trial. In addition, the defendant must agree in writing to pay any reasonable fee for supervision services established by the prosecuting attorney.
If you find yourself facing a theft charge in Ohio the consequences of a conviction or even a plea bargain can follow you for the rest of your life. Not only could you be punished with heavy fines and time in jail, but the impact a criminal conviction has on your ability to find employment can be an even more damaging. A theft diversion program can help you avoid all of those negative consequences, and you want an experienced Columbus criminal defense lawyer to help make sure that you can get into and complete a pre-trial diversion program.
The skilled attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates have helped numerous clients face a wide range of theft cases and are familiar with the pre-trial diversion programs established throughout Central Ohio. Let our knowledge and experience work to ensure one bad decision does not follow you for the rest of your life.
Call us today at for a free and confidential consultation.