Pennsylvania lawmakers and judicial administrators have continued to develop options such as alternative sentencing, accelerated disposition, and various rehabilitation programs for non-violent criminal offenders. Prosecutors often find that lower-level offenders may benefit from treatment, rehabilitation, and therapy instead of the traditional process of punishments and penalties.
These types of initiatives may lead to a host of benefits. Rehabilitation has shown to reduce recidivism among certain categories of offenders. These programs also can significantly reduce costs. Many of these programs also have long-term benefits for offenders. Those who complete certain requirements are often able to have their criminal record expunged. This helps to reduce potential barriers to employment, access to housing, and other issues that hinder those with a criminal record.
Accelerated Misdemeanor Program (AMP)
The AMP program was implemented in Philadelphia to offer non-violent criminal offenders a “second chance.” The program is split into Tier 1 and Tier 2 categories, which is based on the nature of the offense and the offender's prior history of criminal activity. Some of the most common offenses that are diverted to AMP involve drug abuse or possession, theft, and prostitution.
AMP Tier 2
To qualify for AMP Tier 2, the offense committed must be a non-violent misdemeanor level offense. Those with more serious felony charges are ineligible for AMP. Unlike Tier 1, some candidates with a prior criminal conviction may be eligible for Tier 2. The District Attorney analyzes and determines who is a suitable candidate for both Tiers of AMP.
Disposition of Criminal Cases in Tier 2
These cases may result in the offender entering a guilty plea where the matter is resolved with a Negotiated Stipulated Trial. Another disposition involves being admitted to a Section 17 or Section 18 program without pleading guilty to the charge(s).
Defendants may be required to perform between 24 and 36 hours of community service or complete a treatment program for substance abuse. This decision is made by the District Attorney's Office in conjunction with the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation.
The Court has partnered with more than 100 organizations that offer opportunities for community service. The Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department is among the largest of those participating.
All participants are required to pay court costs. The length of time for completion of the Tier 2 program varies based on the circumstances. Probation is generally not imposed in AMP cases. Those admitted to the Section 17 or 18 programs are eligible for having their criminal record expunged in many cases. Participants with cases that result in a Negotiated Stipulated Trial are ineligible for the immediate expungement.
Violating the Provisions of AMP
Participants who do not comply with the conditions are removed from AMP. These individuals will resume the criminal court process for the charges. Some of the common violations that occur include the following:
- Failing to complete the community service requirements promptly
- Non-compliance with the rules of a treatment program
- Failing a test that screens for drug and/or alcohol usage
- Being arrested for a subsequent criminal offense
Experienced Legal Representation for Criminal Cases in Philadelphia
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has been aggressively representing clients charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses in the Pennsylvania courts for many years. He will review the details of your case and create a plan for achieving a positive outcome. For a complimentary case evaluation, contact the office at (888) 535-3686.