In 2018 in Philadelphia, there were roughly 351 homicides committed—the most in 10 years. Mayor Jim Kenney attributes this rise to the prevalence of drug trafficking and abuse. Since 2010, Philadelphia has also had an increase in the number of drug-related fatalities every year except in 2013. The District Attorney's Office has continued to develop new initiatives to rehabilitate non-violent offenders involved in drug trafficking and abuse.
The Choice Is Yours (TCY) Program in Philadelphia
The TCY program is designed for adult defendants in the age group between 18 and 30. These are non-violent offenders that are charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance (PWID). Drug-related criminal offenses are addressed in The Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device, and Cosmetic Act of 1972. TCY accepts those charged with a first-time drug offense that has no more than one conviction for a misdemeanor offense.
Possession With Intent to Deliver
Under the Pennsylvania statute, drug trafficking offenses involve knowingly possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver. A drug transaction doesn't need to occur; rather there must be an attempt to conduct a transfer to another party.
Admission to TCY is based on the discretion of the District Attorney's Office. The offender may not be dependent on drugs. The majority of the defendants may be otherwise facing up to a two-year sentence in prison. Upon acceptance to TCY, the criminal court proceedings are deferred with the entry of a nolo contendere plea.
The defendant will waive his or her right to a preliminary hearing in the matter and begin a TCY Orientation that lasts for one month. The requirements of this phase of the program are as follows:
- The participant must report to the program each day unless they are at work or school at the time
- Attendance is required at various classes and workshops
- Must complete a specified number of community service hours
- Adhere to other conditions imposed by the administration
Once the TCY Orientation month is finished, the offender begins a one-year TCY Program. Participants are heavily involved in education and programming that seeks to prepare them for entering the workforce. They will participate in skills training, which includes computer classes. The participants are mentored and receive assistance with job placement.
During this year, the defendant will be scheduled to appear before their judge to monitor progress. Those who fail to comply with conditions may have sanctions imposed. If a defendant commits a major violation, such as by committing another criminal offense, they will be removed from the program. In this instance, the offender will resume the pre-trial criminal proceedings.
Those who remain compliant and “graduate” from the TCY program are eligible to have their criminal case dismissed. The offender will formally have their case expunged after going one year without any new criminal charges and pay all applicable court costs.
Experienced Philadelphia Defense Lawyer for Drug-Related Offenses
Have you been arrested on allegations of committing a drug offense? Prosecutors today are often handling an overwhelming volume of cases. Under these circumstances, the legal rights of an accused party may be overlooked. Attorney Joseph D. Lento aggressively defends these cases for clients. You are encouraged to contact the office for a case evaluation at (215) 535-5353.