Domestic violence charges are one of the most commonly acquired criminal offenses in Philadelphia. As unfortunate as this reality is, it isn't surprising given the usual elements of this crime: passion, loved ones, and romantic relationships. Philadelphia, understanding that domestic violence is a major issue, has decided to approach it in an unconventional way. The city has implemented a distinctive Domestic Violence Diversion Program.
What is the Domestic Violence Diversion Program?
Much like other diversion programs, the Domestic Violence Diversion Program is intended to “divert” domestic violence perpetrators from the criminal justice system. Its focus is geared towards resolution through rehabilitation and counseling rather than incarceration and punishment.
This program addresses defendants who've exhibited violence against both intimate and non-intimate partners. Circumstances in which the parties involved shared a romantic or sexual relationship - spouses, former spouses, boyfriend/girlfriend, same-sex partners etc. - are labeled as intimate partners. Family members are labeled as non-intimate partners.
Both intimate and non-intimate partner offenders will be classified into one of two tiers. The tier, assigned by the District Attorney's office, will be determined by the circumstances of their arrest and their prior criminal history. Once assigned, defendants will receive treatment relative to impulsivity, coping mechanisms, and anger management for about six months. If extra treatment is required, the length of the program may be extended.
What differentiates the Domestic Violence Diversion Program from many other programs offered in Philadelphia is its extensive list of requirements. To be considered for entry into the Domestic Violence Diversion Program in Philadelphia, a potential participant must meet the following conditions:
- First-time domestic violence misdemeanor
- Cannot be a felony charge
- The charge cannot involve strangulation
- The charge cannot involve the use of a weapon
- The charge cannot involve serious injury
- The charge cannot involve sexual abuse
- No previous arrests or convictions for domestic abuse-related charges
- Defendants cannot be on probation/parole for a felony
- Defendants cannot have two or more open misdemeanor cases
- Defendant must not have been sentenced for a violent felony within the past 10 years
- Defendant cannot have extensive bench warrant history
An attorney is especially useful for people who wish to enter the Domestic Violence Diversion Program because they can request a referral. If you have been charged with domestic violence and are interested in participating in this program, you should contact an attorney immediately. The assistant District Attorney only accepts referrals for consideration within two weeks of arrest and/or at least one week before a trial listing.
Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
When one is arrested and charged with domestic violence, sometimes retaining an attorney and going to trial is the best option. But in some circumstances, it may be best for you to enter into diversionary programs like the one Philadelphia offers.
Either way, experienced and skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento can make the best of a difficult situation. He's helped numerous clients from all walks of life move past difficult situations such as this. Contact him today to learn more about his representation and how he can help you.