This simple mistake can create serious problems for you, both immediate and in the future, including jail time, probation, fines and can impact your current or future employment. While you may have made a mistake, you are not without options.
Options for First-Time Theft Offenders in Ohio
If your theft charge is the first offense you have been charged with, there may be another option for you to consider besides trial and potentially a jail sentence. This is a pre-trial diversion program. Diversion programs vary greatly from county to county. However, the basic idea is common to all theft diversion programs. Instead of serving a jail sentence, you enter a program that includes supervision, restitution, community service, counseling and possibly other elements for a certain period of time. Upon successfully completing the diversion program, the theft charge is dismissed and you may be eligible to have your case immediately expunged.
If the circumstances of your case include possible drug or alcohol abuse, you may be eligible for Intervention in Lieu of Conviction (ILC). This program is designed for those the courts believe committed a crime that was primarily motivated by substance abuse. Through this specific program, you will be ordered to complete court-supervised treatment. This program takes a minimum 12 months to complete and is generally used for felony theft offenders.
Both pre-trial diversion and ILC are not automatically granted. You will need the assistance of a criminal defense attorney in order to gain admission into these programs. Moreover, depending upon your circumstances, you may not be eligible for these programs, in which case you will need an experienced Columbus or Delaware, Ohio criminal defense attorney to either secure a favorable plea agreement or represent you at trial.