One Wiregrass city is looking to give some criminals a second chance.
The city of Ozark is looking to form a Deferred Prosecution Program, which would give certain offenders a chance to wipe their record clean, after completing a specific probationary program.
The Ozark court system wants to create an alternative to the judicial procedure.
The city is looking to follow county and state procedures of creating a Deferred Prosecution Program.
“They would actually have to plead guilty to the offense in order to get the benefit of this, but we would withhold the adjudication. They would have to enroll in the Deferred Prosecution Program. Then, at the end of that period of time, the actual criminal charges against them would be dismissed,” says Ozark Municipal Judge, Robert Brogden.
Like the county and state program, this program would be recommended by the prosecutor. However, the judge would have be the one to make the ultimate decision.
“That’s going to benefit the defendant on a lot of cases where you have people that are first offenders. You have some offenses to where if they get adjudicated…It can affect them in their jobs. This is really for small offenses and it’s helping people to not have a criminal record. We just looked at it at the city, and we felt it would be very beneficial to the city of Ozark and the citizens of the city of Ozark,” says Brogden.
The program is not new to the area.
Most counties in Alabama offer the same Deferred Prosecution Program. But officials say this is the first of its kind for a wiregrass city to implement.
The type of crime that would qualify for the program would be determined by the city prosecutor, on a case by case basis. Not all crimes would qualify.