You face criminal charges in which a conviction threatens to ruin your life. A criminal record can make it more difficult to find a job and go to college. It could also make you ineligible for government programs and put a strain on your relationships with friends and family.
Instead of your case going to trial, however, you could qualify to complete a diversion program. A diversion program such as the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program or the Alternative Misdemeanor Program (AMP) may be suitable options for you. A Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer from our firm can help you learn more about these diversion programs and more.
What Is the Purpose of a Diversion Program?
A diversion program is an option for those facing criminal charges to avoid a criminal record by completing a set of requirements in the program instead of going to trial. This is usually a pre-trial status, which the court can revoke if you fail to complete any of the requirements.
In order to gain entry into a diversion program, you or your legal representative must negotiate with the prosecuting attorney, and sometimes even the victim (if there is one) of the crime can weigh in.
For a free legal consultation, call 215.515.3360
What Kind of Diversion Programs Are There?
There are several types of diversion programs you could qualify for depending on the offense you face charges for. There are programs for domestic violence offenders, drug and alcohol intoxication, summary offenders, and even programs for those facing eviction due to failing to pay rent.
Some of these diversion programs include:
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)
The ARD program is a pre-trial diversion program for first-time non-violent offenders who often, but not always, facing DUI charges, which means you must not have any prior criminal record, which could disqualify you.
Completion of this program often includes requirements such as drug and alcohol counseling, alcohol driving school, a set number of hours of community service, restitution of property damage, payment of fees and prosecution costs, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. If successful, the court could agree to expunge your record.
Accelerated Misdemeanor Program (AMP)
If you face a misdemeanor charge, you might qualify for the AMP program. This must be your first offense and you must be non-violent. You generally have five weeks to complete the requirements such as drug treatment and community service. If you complete the program satisfactorily, you can receive an expungement of your record.
If it’s not your first offense, you could qualify for AMP II, but you wouldn’t receive expungement, and failure to complete the program would mean automatic sentencing.
Alternative Felony Disposition (AFD)
This is a type of pretrial diversion program that allows some defendants to avoid a criminal conviction after they complete certain conditions, such as probation, restitution, or counseling.
AFD is not available for all types of crimes or defendants, and they vary by jurisdiction. For example, the AFD program in Philadelphia is open to defendants charged with certain firearm offenses and who have no or very limited criminal histories.
The Choice Is Yours (TCY) Program
The TCY program is for those who face a first-time drug offense and have no more than one previous misdemeanor conviction. The typical charge these offenders face is Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance.
Requirements of the program include community service, drug classes and workshops, and reporting to the program daily. Like other programs, entry into the TCY program is at the discretion of the prosecution.
DV Diversion Program
For those facing domestic violence charges, you may be able to avoid criminal prosecution if you are eligible to participate in the DV Diversion Program, which focuses on rehabilitation and counseling instead of criminal consequences such as prison.
Like other diversion programs, entrance into the DV Program is at the discretion of the prosecuting attorney, and you must meet eligibility requirements such as:
- You do not face a felony charge
- The charges do not involve sexual abuse, serious injury, use of a weapon, or strangulation
- It’s a first-time misdemeanor offense
- No previous domestic violence convictions
- No history of bench warrants
- No previous violent felony offenses
Participants in the program typically receive anger management and coping mechanism treatment for six months or more if they request an extension.
Veterans Treatment Courts
Veterans who struggle with addiction or mental illness due to post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, or sexual trauma can receive a second chance via the Veterans Treatment Court Program if they face certain criminal charges such as drug charges.
You must make regular court appearances, attend drug and alcohol treatment sessions, and pass drug and alcohol tests. During this time, you will receive support from a veteran mentor and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Summary Diversion Program
If you face charges for summary offenses, you may pay a fee of $200 to join a Summary Diversion Program unless you have charges that include animal cruelty, criminal mischief, or possession of a deadly weapon.
You would attend this program at a Criminal Justice Center during the weekend.
These programs are meant to help you avoid court if you qualify, which also helps to ease the number of cases already stacking up in the criminal justice system. If you or someone you love face criminal charges, talk to a lawyer to determine if you might be eligible for a diversion program.
Learn More About Diversion Programs Today
Diversion programs help people avoid court and criminal records. They are a viable alternative to court, where you risk a conviction that could carry a jail sentence and/or a hefty fine. Not everyone is eligible for a diversion program, but it’s an option worth exploring with your criminal defense attorney.
A criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC can explain diversion programs to you and determine if you might qualify. If a diversion program is a good fit for you, we can contact the prosecuting attorney and negotiate your entrance into the appropriate program.
To learn more about diversion programs, or to consult with a lawyer about your case, please contact us today.