Pennsylvania Section 17 Drug Diversion Program
Drug Diversion Program
What is a Drug Diversion Program in Pennsylvania?
A drug offense conviction in Pennsylvania can have long term and severe penalties for someone who is found guilty of the charges. Conviction of a first-offense drug crime has significant penalties including a misdemeanor or felony on your record depending on the charges. Depending on the circumstances, a drug conviction exposes you to the possibility of imprisonment, steep fines, and possible license suspension.
A Diversion Program is a second chance for those facing drug-related charges to avoid severe sentences, prison time, and related stigmas. These programs were developed to give first-time drug offenders a second chance to clear their record. Those who have prior convictions or face possession with intent to deliver charges with a mandatory minimum sentence do not qualify for a drug diversion program.
Pennsylvania has several different kinds of diversion programs to help first time offenders. The best way to find out if you are eligible for one of these programs is to speak to an experienced drug crimes lawyer who can explain the requirements for the different programs, review your case, and answer your questions. If you are eligible to get into a diversion program, the drug attorney can assist you with the application process.
The Diversion Courts Unit identifies cases where offenders can be held accountable for their actions by participating in non-trial programming to help them learn how to avoid future involvement in the criminal justice system. Drug court teams include a prosecutor, defense counsel, treatment providers, probation officers, law enforcement, and a court coordinator who are led by a judge. The team continuously monitors each participant’s progress and maintains an appropriate level of authority, supervision, and encouragement to help these offenders successfully complete the diversion program.
Admission to the program is at the discretion of the District Attorney’s Office. The Diversion Courts Unit provides intensive judicial supervision; monitors court appearances, mandatory drug testing, and treatment; and offers incentives to help offenders with substance abuse issues break the cycle of addiction and related crime.
The Diversion Courts offer a variety of programs that help offenders meet their court supervised requirements. The programs include community service, educational programming, and specialized treatment for addressing substance abuse and mental health issues. These programs help decrease the collateral consequences and reduce recidivism rates.
The four goals of the drug diversion program include:
- Preventing future criminal activities among offenders by diverting them from traditional processing to community supervision and services.
- Saving prosecutorial and judicial resources for major cases.
- Providing additional services to offenders in need of more structured forms of court supervision.
- Targeting candidates for rehabilitative programs.
If you have been charged with a drug offense and qualify for a drug diversion program your attorney must apply on your behalf, and you will be required to participate in drug and alcohol evaluations. If you are approved for the drug diversion program, a probation officer and a caseworker will be assigned to you.
These court programs implement tightly structured treatment processes and recovery services. The staff maintains a high level of supervision that allows supervisors to watch for concerning behaviors and react accordingly whether that means imposing appropriate sanctions or reinstating criminal proceedings when someone is not complying with the requirements of the program.
You must complete all phases of the program to graduate to have the charges against you withdrawn. Completion of the program can take from 18 to 24 months to complete. Those participants with more violations will take longer to finish the program. If you successfully complete the program, you may graduate, and the charges against you will be withdrawn.
Having a conversation with an experienced lawyer who can explain the drug charge penalties and advise you about getting into a drug diversion program will help you understand your options. The attorney can prepare a strong defense for your case with the goal of reducing the impact of the drug charges.
Arrests for drug crimes in Philadelphia commonly occur throughout the Erie metro area regardless of age, race, education or socio-economic status. Felony drug charges for drug possession, sales, delivery and manufacturing are frequent in the court.
An individual must understand that a drug crime arrest leads to serious legal consequences, which are felony and misdemeanor charges. And when arrested, the accused must have a knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced Philadelphia criminal lawyer to represent him or her in the court.
Misdemeanor Drug Charges Penalties
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania controlled substance act determines which substances are illegal to possess, sell, deliver or manufacture. A simple possession leads to misdemeanor drug charges and those who face this may be eligible for the Section 17 probation program, also known as Pennsylvania’s drug diversion program. Pennsylvania legal system is complex and you need a professional drug crime attorney who will take everything into his hands.
Pennsylvania’s Section 17 Probation Program
The section 17 probation program allows the accused to avoid a misdemeanor drug conviction by pleading guilty to a non-violent drug offense. In addition, it may be necessary to prove drug dependence or drug addiction. When the accused plead guilty, the court usually places him or her on probation for a certain period of time. This period cannot exceed the maximum period for that particular offense. For more detail, read Section 17. Probation Without Verdict act.
Who Can Qualify For Section 17 Probation Program
An individual must meet several qualification in order to be eligible for drug diversion program.
You will not qualify for the Section 17 probation program if you:
- Have previously been convicted of an offense under this act or similar act of the United States or any other state.
- Have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in Pennsylvania or an equivalent crime under the laws of any other state.
- Have been placed on Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) where the person was charged with a violation of this act or the commission of a misdemeanor or felony in this Commonwealth.
- Have been charged with, or have plead guilty or nolo contendere to, multiple offenses which are based on separate conduct or arise from separate criminal episodes such that those offenses could be tried separately
- Have been designated as a dangerous juvenile offender
What If I Do Not Complete All Conditions Of The Program
In case, you somehow violate any terms of probation or do not complete all program’s commitments, the court has the right to enter a judgement and proceed as they would with any criminal case.
What Happens Once The Section 17 Probation Program is Completed?
As soon as you complete the program, you will be discharged from the program and the charges against you will be dismissed. Remember that you are eligible for the Section 17 probation program only once and if you are arrested for a drug crime again, you will have to deal with severe legal consequences.
Let Our Rooney Philly Lawyer Help You
You have rights, in a situation as serious as this, it is important to have a professional criminal defense attorney by your side to protect your rights as a citizen. Moreover, the chances you will grant the entry of Pennsylvania’s drug diversion program with professional legal assistance of a criminal attorney skyrocket right away. You need the right guidance to avoid pernicious consequences.
Contact criminal defense lawyers of Rooney Philly Lawyer to discuss your specific case and how we can help you. As your criminal defense attorney, we will get to know all the details of your case to exclude a lapse in judgement and explain your legal options. Serving Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, Bucks, Chester counties, as trial attorneys, we fight for our clients rights.
Call Now For A Personalized Consultation