First Offenders Program
What is the First Offender Program?
The First Offender Program is designed for first time, non-violent felony offenders who have the opportunity to keep a conviction from being permanently entered on their record. Applicants must complete an intake interview with the program coordinator, meet with and be approved by a panel of citizens from the community, and if accepted, complete the requirements placed upon them by the State’s Attorney’s Office. The requirements may include completing community service hours, obtaining a high school diploma or a G.E.D., completing counseling, writing a letter of apology to the victim, paying restitution to the victim, and paying fees to the First Offender Program. Upon successful completion of the First Offender Program, the State’s Attorney’s Office agrees to dismiss the pending charge against the applicant. If the applicant fails to successfully complete the First Offender Program, the applicant will be terminated from the program, and the case will be returned to court for prosecution.
First Offender Program Application Process
A referral is made by the Judge, State’s Attorney, Public Defender, Private Attorney, or Police Department. If the request for the First Offender Program is made, the applicant will motion the court for a continuance. The applicant will be instructed to bring a copy of the court order to the State’s Attorney’s Office to arrange an intake interview with the coordinator.
INTAKE & FEE
The coordinator will explain the program and all of the necessary forms to the defendant. The application fee is $25 and must be paid at the initial interview, and a standard program fee of $750 is to be paid the date of the acceptance. Restitution payments will be required, if applicable.
PRESENTATION TO THE COMMUNITY PANEL
At the conclusion of the intake interview, the coordinator will schedule a date for the applicant to appear before the First Offender Community Panel. The applicant will have to explain the offense he or she is charged with and accept responsibility for his or her actions. The Community Panel will then make a recommendation to the State’s Attorney about the applicant’s acceptance into the program.
PRESENTATION TO STATE’S ATTORNEY
After the Community Panel has voted, the file will be presented to the State’s Attorney. The State’s Attorney will approve or reject the recommendations of the panel.
If the applicant is accepted into the First Offender Program, he or she will sign an agreement on his or her next court date. The applicant will also be required to provide a statement admitting to the charge and his or her involvement in it.
If the applicant is not accepted into the First Offender Program, he or she will be notified by the coordinator. There are no appeal hearings for rejection.
TERMINATION - SATISFACTORY
Upon successful completion of all the requirements, the case will be dismissed at the final court date.
TERMINATION - UNSATISFACTORY
If the terms of the First Offender Program Agreement are not being followed, or the applicant commits a new offense, the coordinator may recommend to the court that the applicant be terminated from the First Offender Program.
First Offender Program Guidelines
An applicant is generally not eligible for the First Offender Program if any of the following apply:
- Applicant had a prior adult felony arrest.
- Applicant is currently on probation/supervision for misdemeanor or felony charges (juvenile or adult).
- Applicant is an active gang member.
- Applicant is charged with violent, domestic or sex offenses.
- Applicant is charged with Class (X), (1), or non-probationable offenses.
- Applicant is charged with drug or alcohol related charges.
- Applicant is charged with using a weapon.
- Applicant commits the offense while out on bond.
- Applicant is charged with identity theft.
- Applicant is charged with a traffic offense, including driving under the influence.
- Applicant is charged with committing a crime against an elderly victim