Pennsylvania is one of some states that acknowledge that not all crimes, particularly first-time offenses and non-violent crimes, aren't deserving of the consequences normally carried out by the criminal justice system. In some circumstances, counseling and rehabilitation are more effective solutions than punishment.
Diversion programs were established to “divert” defendants from the criminal justice system to more rehabilitative alternatives early in the process. Some defendants don't even have to plead guilty or no-contest to qualify for certain programs. Others, however, may require defendants to formally admit guilt, but in the meantime, their punishment will be postponed or alleviated until the program is completed. Overall, diversion has proven to be a useful alternative that deters recidivism, while allowing defendants the opportunity to compensate victims.
The most common diversion programs available in Philadelphia include:
- ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) Program
- Summary Diversion Program
- AMP I (Alternative Misdemeanor Program I)
- AMP II (Alternative Misdemeanor Program II)
- Drug Treatment Court
Expungement Eligibility in Philadelphia Diversion Programs
To gain entry into a diversion program, one must qualify. Each of the programs mentioned above has different eligibility requirements. Once admitted, it is up to defendants to follow the rules to successfully complete a program. Whether or not expungement is available depends on the program.
The ARD program is a pre-trial intervention alternative that is solely offered to first-time, non-violent offenders. If this program is completed, a defendant's original criminal charges will be dismissed and available for expungement.
Summary Diversion Program
Defendants partaking in the summary diversion program are must attend a weekend event in the Criminal Justice Center. As its name implies, this program is only extended to defendants with summary offenses. Upon the successful completion of this program, a defendant's arrest record will be automatically expunged. (An attorney can file for immediate expungement if a defendant does not want to wait for the Court to do so. For example, college students who get into trouble and their families often prefer to have the criminal records expunged as quickly as possible because of pending internships and/or employment opportunities that can otherwise be jeopardized by the mere existence of any kind of criminal record.)
AMP I and II
Defendants who are accepted into either one of these programs must complete community service hours and pay court costs within a five-week window of accepting the terms. If completed, defendants are eligible for expungement without opposition.
Drug Treatment Court
Drug treatment court is an intensive program that covers four phases over the course of a year. Each phase signifies a step towards sobriety. If defendants refrain from committing crimes and doing drugs and alcohol during the following year, their case will be expunged.
Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in Philadelphia, you may be eligible for entry into one of the city's many diversion programs. Fortunately, all the programs mentioned above give defendants the option of expunging their record. Consult with experienced criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento for more information about how you can get approved. Contact him today online or by phone at (215) 535-5355.