Second Chance Program
The second chance program is designed for first-time offenders who are willing to take responsibility for their conduct and want to keep a felony conviction off their record. If the defendant completes the program, the charges are dismissed with prejudice. The defendant must complete an intake interview, take an initial assessment tool, and if accepted complete the requirements placed upon them by the State's Attorney's Office.
The requirements are tailored to each case but often includes:
- Community service hours
- Obtaining a high school diploma or GED
- Completing counseling
- Writing a letter of apology to the victim
- Paying restitution
- Holding a full-time job
Advantages of the Program
The advantages of the program are significant for the defendant, it is an opportunity to keep a single mistake from impacting upon them for the rest of their lives. For the court system, it is a way to reduce already crowded dockets, and for the community, it helps a potential felon become a productive citizen.
Who Is Eligible for the Program
Any eligible defendant may request deferral into the program, or may be referred by the State's Attorney's Office, Defense Counsel or the Court. The applicant must then arrange an appointment with the Program Coordinator at the State's Attorney's Office. The program coordinator will explain the necessary forms and arrange the applicant to take the LSI-R pre-screen assessment tool. There is a $25 application fee that must be paid at the initial interview.
The coordinator will schedule a time for the applicant to appear before a panel of community members and explain their offense, accept responsibility and explain why they are a good candidate for deferral into the program. Statements to the panel cannot be used against the applicant in any way. The panel will make a recommendation to the State's Attorney, who will approve or reject the application. If the defendant is rejected, the prosecution will proceed. There is no appeal from a rejection.
If You Are Accepted
If accepted, participants will give a videotaped statement admitting guilt, sign a program contract and begin the program. The defendant must pay a $750 program fee. Payment arrangements may be made with the Financial Compliance Officer.
Program Length & Components
The length of the program will be 12 months. During that time, participants will meet as directed with the Program Coordinator so that their progress in the program can be monitored. Participants will sign releases of information to allow the coordinator to communicate directly with any service provider. Participants will provided written documentation of their progress in all program requirements, including:
- Apology to victim
- Community service
- Drug/alcohol treatment, as applicable
- Full-time employment
- Payment of restitution
- Public service
If the participant completes the requirements of the program, pays the program fees, and is not arrested for any new offenses, the case will be dismissed with prejudice. Participants are then free to continue their lives without the cloud of a felony conviction over their heads and the community gains a productive citizen instead of a felon.
Failure to Complete
If the participant fails to follow the program requirements, fails to pay the program fees according to the agreed-upon schedule, or commits another offense, the State's Attorney may terminate the participant from the program and set the case for trial.