In Pennsylvania, as an alternative to incarceration, some convicted offenders are allowed to participate in drug court programs. Strict rules apply to participants, and they will be supervised by an assigned probation officer. Speak to your Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney with questions about your eligibility.
What is Drug Court?
Drug court focuses on treatment and rehabilitation for those battling addiction. Drug offenders get a chance to be helped rather than simply punished. Rather than fighting the charges against them, the offender must plead guilty.
Pleading guilty runs contrary to what most people charged with a crime think is in their best interest since they want to avoid incarceration. But, in this case, the guilty plea is shelved or placed in abeyance. If the offender can commit to working through the program to its completion, the guilty plea will be dismissed.
Failure to complete the program will mean that the offender will be sentenced as usual, as their guilty plea will remain. These are programs that last quite a while, so before pleading guilty and entering into the program, make sure you are ready to commit to all of the requirements.
What Sorts of Requirements and Terms are Stipulated in Drug Court Programs
Each county in Pennsylvania’s programs is its own, so there is a variation from county to county. Though, they are typically similar. Some counties require a year-long commitment broken down into four three-month-long phases. Each phase has specific requirements.
Some of these might include the following:
- Earning a high school diploma or GED
- Maintaining full-time employment
- Securing housing
- Completing drug or alcohol treatment programs
- Staying drug and alcohol-free
- Committing no other crimes
Talk to your criminal defense lawyer about the specific requirements for the drug court in your county.
Who is Eligible for Drug Court in Pennsylvania?
Drug court in Pennsylvania is aimed at non-violent drug offenders. The program is in place to aid those who fight drug or alcohol addiction. If you are a first-time offender, or if you do not battle addiction, you may not be a good candidate for Pennsylvania drug court.
Each county may have different eligibility requirements. As a rule, the underlying crime does not have to be drug-related, but it must be a non-violent crime. To be considered, the defendant must have no more than convictions for non-violent crimes.
Juvenile records are also reviewed, and typically, no more than two juvenile admission or consent decrees are permitted. Those who have already attended the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) program will not likely be admitted. Pleading no contest to a previous criminal charge may also disqualify you from being considered for drug court.
There are a number of offenses that exclude offenders from participation in a Pennsylvania drug court program. These are as follows:
- Weapons-related offenses
- Drug offenses in which the weight of the drugs is considered in sentencing
- School zone violations
Your attorney can offer you more insight and advice, depending on the specific county where you are applying to participate in drug court.
Contact Us Today
The experienced team of attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices can advise you on whether drug court is the appropriate path for you to pursue. Reach out today, and we will schedule a consultation to discuss your options.