Being convicted of a crime in Ohio comes with serious consequences, including the creation of a permanent criminal record. Having a permanent reminder of one’s criminal past can make it difficult to move on, as it can significantly impede the ability to find housing or secure employment. Recognizing the dramatic effect that a single bad decision could have on a person’s life, Ohio lawmakers instituted what is known as the First Offender Program (FOP).
The FOP offers an alternative to prosecution for those who have been charged with a misdemeanor and who have no prior criminal convictions. If a participant successfully completes the FOP, he or she could qualify for expungement of his or her criminal record. However, only certain individuals qualify for the First Offender Program, so if you were recently arrested for or charged with a crime in Ohio, it is important to speak with an experienced Dayton criminal defense lawyer who can walk you through the eligibility criteria.
What is the First Offender Program?
The First Offender Program (FOP) is a diversion program that is available to those who have been accused of criminal offenses in Ohio, but who do not have a prior criminal record. If deemed eligible for the program, participants can complete the terms of the FOP in lieu of prosecution and have his or her charges dismissed.
Who Qualifies for the FOP?
Only certain individuals qualify for the First Offender Program, namely those who:
- Have no prior convictions in Ohio or anywhere else;
- Have no other pending legal matters;
- Are not on probation for another criminal offense;
- Are not dependent on drugs or alcohol;
- Will benefit from supervision by a professional; and
- Have not participated in any diversion programs since turning 18 years old.
There are certain misdemeanor offenses that do not qualify for the FOP, including vehicular manslaughter, specific drug crimes, sex offenses, violent crimes, and child endangerment.
Completion of the First Offender Program
Participants who successfully complete the First Offender Program will be eligible for an expungement of their criminal record. What conditions a person needs to satisfy will vary depending on the case in question, with the judge given discretion to impose a set of rules and requirements. Some of the most common conditions, however, include:
- Attending and completing mandatory counseling or therapy;
- Attending educational classes related to the crime in question;
- Completing drug or alcohol counseling;
- Performing community service;
- Paying restitution to the victims of the offense; and
- Writing an official apology letter.
To learn more about the requirements that you may need to satisfy in order to qualify for and successfully complete the First Offender Program, please call our Dayton criminal defense legal team today.
Speak with a Criminal Defense Lawyer
To speak with an experienced Dayton criminal defense attorney about eligibility for the First Offender Program in Ohio, please call the Comunale Law Office today. A member of our team is standing by to begin working on your case, so please call or contact us online at your earliest convenience.