The court, funded mostly by grants, will handle repeat violent felonies between spouses, former spouses, and other couples throughout Summit County. Among charges the court might handle are aggravated arson, rape, aggravated assault, felony menacing by stalking and kidnapping.
The court had 15 cases as it opened October 3, said Common Pleas Judge Paul Gallagher, who will preside over the court. He expects to handle at least 350 cases a year.
Offenders will not have the option of having charges dismissed or convictions sealed by completing programming, as is often the case in other specialty courts, Gallagher said.
A goal is to keep offenders out of prison by using intensive probation that would ultimately land an offender behind bars if it’s violated.
The domestic-violence court, five years in the making, was championed by the prosecutor’s office and the court, along with victim advocates and mental-health experts.
The prosecutor and other groups will recommend whether criminal cases are eligible for the court, based on a number of factors, such as mandatory sentencing guidelines, ages, prior convictions, and drug and alcohol use.