Understanding Illinois’ Second Chance Probation Program

joliet criminal attorneyHaving a felony conviction on your record is more than just embarrassing. It can prevent you from getting student financial aid, from joining the military, from owning a firearm, from working in some types of jobs, and from being accepted into some types of housing. These effects can be very long-lasting, as most felony convictions remain on your record permanently. In addition, a felony by definition carries a minimum prison term of one year in Illinois, during which time an individual cannot support their family.

Such hardships make it very difficult for people to recover from a felony conviction, to make a fresh start, and to support their families without returning to crime. Recognizing that probation is a better alternative than incarceration for many offenders, Illinois legislators enacted Second Chance Probation, effective in January 2014.

How Second Chance Probation Works

If given a sentence of Second Chance Probation, an individual will be on probation for a minimum of two years, with no prison time. If they successfully complete all of the probation terms, their case will be dismissed, and they will have no felony conviction on their record. However, if they violate any of the probation terms, they will be convicted on the original charge. In addition, if the individual is convicted of a new crime within five years of the dismissal, the court can consider the Second Chance Probation case when deciding the sentence for the new case.

Who Is Eligible for Second Chance Probation in Illinois

Second Chance Probation is available only to non-violent offenders with no prior felony convictions (730 ILCS 5/5-6-3.4).

  • A non-violent offender is one charged with a lower-level Class 3 or 4 felony such as theft, vandalism, or small-quantity drug possession. An offender convicted of a felony like aggravated DUI would not qualify, because Illinois classifies DUI as a violent crime, one that poses a threat of physical injury to another person.
  • The offender must have no prior felony convictions as an adult in any state, nor any juvenile adjudications involving violent crime.
  • An offender with a substance abuse problem may be ruled ineligible for this sentence.
  • A person is eligible for only one Second Chance Probation within a four-year period.

Second Chance Probation Terms

The conditions of Second Chance Probation are extensive. During the probationary period, the offender must:

  • Not commit another crime in Illinois or anywhere else.
  • Not possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon.
  • Pay any levied fines or court costs, including the cost of drug testing.
  • Submit to at least three drug tests.
  • Make full restitution to any victim or property owner.
  • Obtain or attempt to obtain employment.
  • Take high school/GED or vocational training courses.
  • Perform at least 30 hours of community service.
  • The court may also require the offender to:
  • Report in person to a probation officer or social service agency.
  • Undergo medical or psychiatric treatment or rehabilitation.
  • Attend or reside in a facility established for defendants on probation.
  • Financially support any dependents.
  • Refrain from consumption of controlled substances.

Trust an Experienced Joliet Felony Defense Attorney

If you are facing felony charges, you need the help of an experienced Will County criminal defense lawyer. The Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba will provide personalized service and work aggressively on your behalf to obtain the best possible results, with one possible option being Second Chance Probation, although a reduction of charges or outright dismissal may also be possible. Contact us at 815-740-4025 at any time for a free consultation.

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