Alternative to Jail Programs in PA for Drug Offenders
Know Your Options – A drug charge does not have to mean a drug conviction.
Being convicted of a crime, especially a drug crime, can have very serious consequences in Pennsylvania. A first offense conviction of drugs or DUI could mean a misdemeanor or a felony on your record, depending on your case circumstances. If convicted, you face imprisonment, heavy fines and a possible license suspension.
Whether it was heroin, cocaine, meth, steroids, illegal prescription drugs or simple marijuana possession, you still face jail time, for even a first offense. Penalties in PA for a drug conviction or guilty verdict are very harsh.
The good news is, in some cases, the court can opt to allow a defendant to enter a diversion program. In the case of a drug crime, this usually means rehabilitation instead of jail time and sometimes can mean being able to get the criminal charges expunged from your record.
These programs are often meant to help first time offenders get their life back on track.
Pennsylvania offers several diversion programs for drug offenders—all of which have different requirements to gain admission.
Speaking with a knowledgeable Pittsburgh Drug Attorney is the best way to determine if you are eligible for any of the programs, and if so, which one would be best for you.
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PENNSYLVANIA’S SECTION 17 DISPOSITION PROGRAM—PROBATION WITHOUT VERDICT (PWOV)
Conviction of drug charges will result in a misdemeanor or felony on your permanent record. This can have life-long consequences beyond serving jail time and paying fines.
In order to help ease the burden on the courts and keep non-violent criminals out of jail, Pennsylvania allows some defendants the chance to keep a misdemeanor off of their record by entering the Probation Without Verdict or PWOV Program.
In order to qualify for Probation Without Verdict (PWOV), you must:
- Be a first-time drug offender;
- Not have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony previously;
- Not be charged with multiple offenses that could be charged separately, and;
- Not be designated as a dangerous or violent offender.
In order to participate in PWOV, you will have to fulfill all program requirements.
- You will be required to plead guilty to the non-violent drug offense;
- You may be required to prove to the court that you have a drug addiction or dependence problem, and;
- You will be placed on probation for a time that is not to exceed what your max sentence would have been had you been convicted in court and sentenced.
The help of an aggressive drug attorney is beneficial in order to gain entrance into the program.
Failure to complete all of the requirements of the program, or violating the terms of your probation, could result in the court entering judgment against you and proceeding with re-sentencing in the normal course. However, if you successfully complete the program, the charges against you will be dismissed and you can seek expungement from your record.
Learn more about the Probation without Verdict Program in PA.
ACCELERATED REHABILITATIVE DISPOSITION (ARD) PROGRAM
Another program that Pennsylvania offers as a way to avoid serving jail time for minor drug offenses as well as first-time DUI charges is the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, more commonly known as ARD. Applicants must be non-violent offenders to qualify.
Generally, the ARD Program will have specific requirements that must be fulfilled within a period of a year.
Requirements of the Pennsylvania ARD Program may include:
- Meeting with a program supervisor regularly;
- Attending drug and/or alcohol counseling sessions;
- Fulfilling community service;
- Passing regular drug tests that prove sobriety, and;
- Paying court fees and/or restitution.
Additional requirements may be ordered by the court depending on the circumstances specific to your case.
Should you successfully complete all of the ARD requirements in the designated time frame, your charges will be dismissed and expunged completely from your record. Failure to comply with the requirements will have you facing your original charges.
Admission into the ARD program is at the sole discretion of the District Attorney’s Office. Having an experienced and knowledgeable drug attorney could be helpful in gaining admittance into the program.
An experienced criminal attorney can best explain what to expect and the process of getting accepted into the ARD Program, as well as how a drug Attorney can help with the process — call Ketchel Law today for a free consultation—(412) 456-1221.
Learn more about the ARD Program for DUI in Pennsylvania.
An arrest is not a conviction.
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PENNSYLVANIA DRUG COURT
Another drug diversion program in Pennsylvania is the Pennsylvania Drug Court. Admittance to Drug Court is extremely limited and if accepted, is a major commitment.
Pennsylvania Drug Court was set up in order to rehabilitate drug dealers—more specifically, those who sell drugs to support their own drug habit. It applies to defendants who have been charged with non-violent felony drug possession or Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID).
The District Attorney’s Office will likely make the initial offer at pre-trial if the defendant qualifies, but an experienced Pittsburgh Drug Defense Attorney can help you apply and make your case for acceptance. Entry into the program requires a guilty plea to all charges.
Once you have been accepted into the Drug Court program, you will be given a number of requirements to fulfill. Some of the requirements include entering a drug treatment program, electronic monitoring, attending regular meetings, paying any court costs or restitution, passing regular drug and alcohol testing.
Successful completion of the Probation Without Verdict (PWOV) program will result in a full dismissal of your charge(s) and expungement of your criminal record.
Learn more about the Pennsylvania Drug Court Program.
ADVANTAGES TO DRUG DIVERSION PROGRAMS
Staying out of jail is not the only benefit – a criminal drug record can wreck your future and chances of getting a regular job, finding housing and even taking out a loan or going to college. Drug Diversion Programs can ensure that does not happen to you by dismissing the charges and allowing for your record to be sealed, or expunged.
Expunging your criminal record means to have it removed from the files of the Department of Court Records, Criminal Division, and other criminal justice agencies.
Having your record expunged means that your arrest will not affect your ability to own a gun or weapon and won’t appear on background checks—this is very important when applying for jobs and colleges or even housing. Usually, charges that resulted in a conviction cannot be expunged.
Even if you pass and complete all program requirements, you will still need an attorney to expunge your record after the completion.
How Ketchel Law Can Help
OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL: HAVING YOUR POSSESSION OF DRUGS CASE DISMISSED.
Ketchel Law offers a free consultation and will closely listen to the details of your case in order to build a strong defense.
A conversation with an experienced drug attorney will help you better understand all the possible defenses to criminal drug charges. If the evidence cannot be suppressed or if the drug charges cannot be dismissed, there are still several options for a reduction of sentencing.
Talk to an experienced Pittsburgh Drug Attorney who offers free consultations, about how best to fight your charges. There are numerous options to reducing the severity of the consequences of drug charges.
A drug charge does not have to mean a drug conviction.
Learn More About Drug Charges in Pennsylvania:
- Pennsylvania Drug Court
- ARD Program
- Probation without Verdict in PA
- Simple Possession of Drugs
- First Time Drug Charge in PA
- PWID Drugs
- Drug Sentencing in PA
- Heroin Possession Lawyer
- Pittsburgh Marijuana Lawyer
- Small Amount of Marijuana Charges
- First Time Marijuana Charges in PA
- Drug Paraphernalia Charges
- Prescription Fraud Charges in PA
- Property Forfeiture and Asset Seizure