In Mahoning County, there are four different types of programs that allow those charged with certain crimes to avoid jail time. They are designed to provide treatment and rehabilitation to offenders who may be at risk to commit similar crimes in the future. The four programs utilized in the Mahoning County are Intervention in Lieu of Conviction, Veteran’s Court, Drug Court, and Mental Health Court.
Intervention in Lieu of Conviction (ILC) provides the opportunity for offenders with drug dependencies, intellectual disabilities, diagnosed mental illnesses, and those who are victims of human trafficking to receive treatment and rehabilitation, rather than being sentenced to a jail or prison term. ILC programs are somewhat exclusive, in that they do not allow offenders to join who have prior violent felony charges, those who are charged with a 3rd degree felony or higher, or those whose victims are elderly, children, or police officers. Offenders who are enrolled in ILC programs must stay drug-free for 12 consecutive months. They also go through different types of counseling and community service programs. This program is overseen by all the judges in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas. The ultimate goals of ILC programs are to prevent offenders from committing future crimes by providing them with opportunities that may not be accessible otherwise.
The next court program, Veteran’s Court, is a combination of drug court and mental health court. It is not uncommon for veterans to develop mental illnesses and/or drug dependencies, which can put them at a higher risk to commit crimes. In fact, at least 31% of veterans who return from Iraq and Afghanistan have some type of mental health condition or traumatic brain injury. The Veteran’s Court program is overseen by Judge Anthony D’Apolito. This type of court program helps veterans avoid jail time while addressing and treating the underlying issue(s) that contributed to their criminal behavior.
Drug Court is similar to Veteran’s Court, except that it is not exclusive to those who have served in the military. This court program is comprised of offenders who are drug dependent, regardless if the crime they committed was drug-related. While offenders may not have committed a visibly drug-related crime (like possession or trafficking), the crime they did commit could have been a result of their drug dependency. Drug Court programs manage offenders through specialized weekly hearings, along with treatment to address their drug dependency. This program is overseen by Judge John Durkin, and the primary goal is to prevent recidivism or repeated criminal activity while also providing treatment for drug dependencies.
The final court program is Judge Maureen Sweeney’s Mental Health Court, which she started back in 2005. This program was created with the intention to rehabilitate low-level offenders, rather than send them to prison. Violent offenders are not eligible for Mental Health Court, with the exception of domestic violence offenders who have written consent from the victim(s) in their case.
Specialized court programs are designed to help reduce recidivism rates all over the state and address underlying problems that may contribute to criminal behavior, such as drug dependencies or mental illnesses. These programs offer incentives to those who successfully complete their treatment, such as eligibility to get their fines reduced or the possibility of getting their charges dismissed. They are far more effective than traditional jail or prison sentences and provide offenders with otherwise inaccessible resources to help prevent them from getting re-arrested. ILC, Veteran’s Court, Drug Court, and Mental Health Court are valid options for many criminal defense clients, and they allow offenders to get the specialized types of help that they need. If you or someone you know has pending criminal charges, contact Hartwig Law at (330) 718-9499 to see if one of these court programs may be beneficial!