Being convicted of a drug offense in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania can have critical and long lasting repercussions. Due to misinformation, or not having much knowledge of state law, many people aren't aware of these consequences until they have lost their license, have been ordered to pay costly fines or been sentenced to jail time for using, possessing or selling illegal drugs.
Some people who have acquired drug charges have been offered the option of being admitted into several state and county programs that can help them with their issues with addiction, or give them an alternative method of resolution for first time drug offenders. These drug diversion programs typically require members to undergo treatment, rather than sending drug offenders to go to jail or prison.
Drug Diversion Programs in Pennsylvania
There are drug diversion programs available that will allow your criminal record to be expunged and/or will significantly reduce your sentence upon their completion. Two relatively popular and rewarding programs are the ARD program, and the Pennsylvania Drug Court.
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program
The ARD program is a pre-trial intervention program that accepts an influx of defendants charged with minor charges related to drug possession. The program's board has been known to commonly grant acceptance to first time, non-violent drug offenders. Once accepted, an individual is assigned specific requirements to fulfill with a years time. Being placed on supervision, attending drug and alcohol counseling sessions, completing community service hours, passing drug tests and paying restitution are just some of the obligations placed on defendants. If these assignments are completed within the given time period, the program guarantees that the courts will dismiss the case and expunge the drug charges.
It's important to note that entry into the ARD program is limited. However, you can determine your eligibility and increase the likelihood of being admitted with the assistance of an attorney.
Pennsylvania Drug Court
This program is designed to help people charged with felony drug possession with intent to deliver (PWID) avoid being convicted of this crime. At its core, the program intends to rehabilitate people who sell drugs to fuel their drug addiction. Once an applicant is granted acceptance, hr or she will be assigned several phases to complete to finish the program. These phases include attending outpatient drug treatment programs, passing drug tests, paying court costs and periodically meeting with a case worker and probation officer for check-ups. When the phases have been completed, the felony charges will be withdrawn and expunged from an applicant's record.
Since this is a serious offense, the qualifications for acceptance are strict in comparison to ARD, or other drug programs. A individual cannot have a criminal history, nor can they be facing PWID charges that will warrant a mandatory minimum sentence. Entry into drug court is also under the discretion of the District Attorney, who in turn requires that defendants seek legal counsel to submit an application on their behalf, and undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation.
Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged or arrested for a drug-related crime, it is important you contact an attorney. Every defendant doesn't automatically qualify for these programs, it takes an experienced attorney to pull some strings in certain circumstances for a program to grant your acceptance. Contact skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento today to help you get through this process, and evade a criminal conviction that warrants serious penalties. For more information or for assistance, contact him today.