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Does Chicago have a court diversion program for felonies?

Drug charges in Chicago that are being prosecuted at the state level might not always mean that you have to serve time in jail or prison. Cook County offers a court diversion program that can give some people who are facing first-time drug charges a second chance.

What is the purpose of this program?

The court diversion program gives people who are facing drug charges an opportunity to avoid a felony record if they can successfully complete the program. The goal of the diversion program is rehabilitation instead of punishment.

Who can enter into the diversion program?

The person must be a non-violent offender. If there is a victim in the case, the victim must consent. The person must not possess firearms, drugs or any weapons while in the program. They mustn't be arrested during the 12-month program. They must obtain a job or complete community service work. They have to have a high school diploma or be able to attend GED courses. They must attend all of the court dates they are given.

What happens if a person is accepted into the program?

The program is voluntary. People who want to enter into this program are screened to determine if they will be a good fit. If the person is accepted, his or her progress will be monitored at a 90-day status date.

When you are facing drug charges, you should explore all of the options that are available to you. In some cases, such as if you qualify for the diversion program, you might be able to avoid a felony record.

Source: State's Attorney Cook County, Illinois, "State's Attorney Alvarez Announces First-of-its-Kind "Deferred Prosecution Program"," accessed Nov. 17, 2015

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