I routinely refer to the work I do for my clients as "salvaging lives and saving careers". Most of my clients have no or very limited prior contact with the criminal justice system. I believe that certain non-violent first time felony offenders should have a chance to earn dismissal of charges. This is referred to as Deferred Prosecution Agreements. In Ohio, we have Diversion and Intervention in Lieu of Conviction. Last fall, Ohio expanded these types of dispositions with HB 86. Yet, I believe more needs to be done between prosecutor's and defense lawyers.
Deferred prosecution agreements are flourishing in America. The costs to pay officers and detectives overtime to come to court, the court costs of multiple court dates, and the per diem costs to incarcerate offenders are forcing counties and cities to re-evaluate the prosecution mandate.
A smart program allows offenders to admit their mistake, pay for their mistake, learn from their mistake, deter others from making the same mistake, and move on with their lives. We routinely ask for reasonable conditions from prosecutor's in exchange for dismissals or reduction of charges.
Paying restitution to victims, performing community service, attend counseling for drug / alcohol abuse, and lead at least 1 year of a law abiding life ought to be able to have the chance to have their charges dismissed and expunged. We don't need to spend alot of money prosecuting theft, retail theft, forgery, possession of stolen property, drug possession, and other non-violent offenses. This is especially true if the person does not have a record.
I see the anguish on the faces of my clients every day. Our clients regret the anguish they are putting their families through. Prior to this, they've led law abiding lives. After this experience, it is quite likely they will return to a law abiding life.
Felony convictions have irreversible long term consequences. Just because prosecutor's have a case to prosecute should not mean that prosecution needs to be the first line treatment of felony offenders.