When an individual obtains a criminal record, the consequences they suffer may extend outside of the repercussions imposed by the criminal justice system. These lasting effects are known as legal disabilities. Any run-ins that a person has with law enforcement - whether it be an arrest, charges or a criminal conviction - are documented onto a person's criminal record, which can be accessed by employers, schools, organizations and anyone who wishes to view your public record. This record has been known to hinder people from landing potential careers, prevent them from being accepted into certain schools or organizations and from joining the military. Also, as a result of having a criminal record, a person may experience limited access to important benefits and resources provided by the government.
Fortunately, Philadelphia has established a number of diversion programs for people to avoid creating a criminal record. These programs take a more rehabilitative approach to crime by allowing perpetrators to fulfill specific requirements in relation to the crime committed in exchange for a criminal trial and possible conviction. For the purposes of this article, I will address some of the program options offered to offenders in Philadelphia.
Types of Diversion Programs
There are several different diversion programs offered in Philadelphia. They include:
AMP (Alternative Misdemeanor Program)
The AMP program is exclusive to Philadelphia and accepts individuals charged with nonviolent misdemeanor crimes. There are no strict entry guidelines, as people with prior arrests, convictions and run-ins with law enforcement have been accepted into the program on multiple occasions. If granted acceptance into the AMP program, individuals are required to complete up to 18 hours of community service and pay court costs.
ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) Program
ARD is a pre-trial intervention program that is available to qualified applicants in the Philadelphia area. The program was originally intended for first-time offenders, however, exceptions may be made for applicants with limited interactions with police. Although ARD does not explicitly lay out its qualifications for entry, it routinely accepts individuals who have been charged with nonviolent minor crimes. Once a person is granted acceptance, they are given a timeframe of a year to fulfill requirements that are assigned by ARD. Some of these requirements consist of being placed on supervision (unofficial probation), community service, random drug tests, paid restitution and the completion of drug and alcohol counseling. If said requirements are fulfilled before the ARD period, the courts will dismiss a person's case and expunge the criminal charges.
Drug Treatment Court Program
Drug treatment court is a program that was created specifically for people who sell drugs to support their own drug addiction. Typically, individuals who have been charged with felony drug possession with intent to deliver (PWID) without any prior convictions or PWID charges that will not result in a mandatory minimum sentence are qualified for acceptance into the drug treatment court program. Once an applicant qualifies, there are a number of phases that he or she must complete to finish the program and get their drug charges expunged.
Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime and wish to avoid a criminal record, you should consult with an attorney. An attorney can help find the diversion program that is best suitable for you and get your application into the hands of program coordinators. Skilled legal professional Joseph D. Lento has extensive experience getting his clients the help they need. You deserve a second chance. Contact him today for help.