MOUNT VERNON — Anyone wishing to avoid a felony conviction by participating in intervention in lieu of conviction will have to make their decision within two months of indictment.
Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Wetzel has drafted a notice requiring eligible criminal defendants to file for intervention in lieu of conviction (ILC) within 60 days of being served with charges. The deadline is effective immediately, and a notation will appear in case files beginning with indictments from the most recent session of the grand jury, Wetzel said.
Wetzel said the impetus behind the ILC filing deadline is achieving timely resolution of cases.
Intervention in lieu of conviction is a year-long program open to certain defendants whose crime was committed as a result of substance abuse. The defendant must sign off on a treatment plan, and complete it within one year, while also maintaining their sobriety.
If ILC is completed successfully, the charges are dismissed. Usually, a guilty plea is a entered at the start of ILC, so court proceedings can be picked back up where they left off if the defendant does not successfully complete the treatment plan.
Thursday, Wetzel denied a request for ILC from Brittany Cosner, 25, Howard, who was arraigned on an aggravated possession of drugs charge Sept. 8, 2017.
Cosner’s case is more than 15 months old. Granting ILC would have extended it another year.
ILC would have wiped out the felony charge brought against Cosner. Cosner can still file to have the charge sealed, which would effectively erase it from her record. However, she will have to complete probation and then wait three years before filing.
Cosner had filed for ILC in June 12, 2018, but failed to present the court with a treatment plan. ILC was denied, and Cosner pleaded guilty Oct. 10.
After entering the guilty plea, Cosner voluntarily checked herself into a recovery program and is less than three weeks away from successful completion. Cosner’s attorney, Public Defender John Pyle, asked that the application for ILC be renewed, based on Cosner’s progress.
Wetzel congratulated Cosner on her progress, but said he “can’t go back and roll the clock back” by granting ILC. Instead, he sentenced Cosner to a year of probation, to give her a shorter window of time to file to have the charge sealed.
Wetzel said Cosner’s case is an example of how ILC can extend the life of a case on the docket. Granting Cosner ILC would further have been unfair to many other individuals who made similar requests, but were denied, Wetzel said.