A drug possession conviction can have devastating lifelong consequences, both personally and professionally. In addition, an individual convicted of a drug crime may face jail time, steep fines, mandatory drug counseling and other harsh court-ordered conditions. A drug possession conviction may prevent you from acquiring a job in education, healthcare, government, finance, computer and IT, or even employment as an Uber driver. Fortunately, you may qualify for one of the Bucks County Drug Possession Diversion Programs.
Successful completion of the drug possession diversion program can enable you to avoid a permanent criminal record. With your personal and professional future at stake, you must work with a lawyer who is familiar with the application and admission procedures for all available first-time-offender programs for drug possession charges in Bucks County.
Bucks County Drug Possession Diversion Lawyer
I have over a decade of experience providing skilled representation to individuals charged with drug possession in Bucks County, PA. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.
Community Accountability Program (CAP)
Most townships and boroughs in Bucks County offer the CAP program through the magisterial district courts. The CAP program is available to individuals charged with summary citations and certain non-violent misdemeanor offenses. Driving under the influence (DUI) offenses are not eligible for the CAP program.
Individuals who complete the CAP program will have their charges dismissed at the magisterial district court level. Successful completion of the CAP program will result in expungement of charges for first-time offenders.
District Court Diversion Program (DCDP)
The DCDP program focuses on drug treatment and is open to first-time offenders charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, possession of a small amount of marijuana or possession of drug paraphernalia. The DCDP program is administered through the magisterial district court where the charges are filed. The program’s conditions include:
- Bucks County residency
- No prior criminal record (does not include MJ cases)
- District attorney approval of participation in DCDP
- Substance abuse treatment for 90 days or 6 months
- Status hearings scheduled before the Magisterial District Judge
- Reinstatement of prosecution if a program violation occurs
- Payment of court costs
Individuals who complete the DCDP program will have their charges dismissed at the district court level. Successful completion of all the program’s requirements will result in expungement of charges for first-time DCDP program participants.
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)
The ARD program is available to first-time offenders charged with misdemeanor drug possession or drug paraphernalia charges. Unlike CAP and DCDP, placement into the ARD program occurs in the Bucks County Justice Center. The program’s conditions may include:
- District attorney approval of participation in the ARD program
- 6-, 12- or 24-month supervision (non-reporting or reporting probation)
- Community service
- No prior criminal record
- Waiver of preliminary hearing
- Formal written application for admission
- Pre-payment of court costs
Individuals who complete all the conditions of the ARD program will have their charges dismissed at the court of common pleas level. After verifying that the individual has completed the ARD program, the Bucks County Clerk of Courts will process the expungement of all charges. The expungement process will end approximately 3 to 4 months after completion of the ARD program. ARD program participants are eligible for subsequent admission into the DCDP program.
Section 17 Diversion Program
The Section 17 program, also referred to as probation without a verdict, is open to first-time offenders charged with misdemeanor drug possession or drug paraphernalia offenses. Admission into the Section 17 program takes place in the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas. The program’s conditions include:
- No prior criminal record (includes prior ARD)
- Probationary sentence (cannot exceed the offense’s maximum sentence)
- Letter from physician/psychologist confirming drug addiction
- Court approval of admission into Section 17
- Payment of court costs
Individuals who successfully complete the Section 17 program conditions will have their charges dismissed and eventually expunged. Participation in the Section 17 program does not eliminate a person’s eligibility, at a later date, for consideration for the ARD program due to an ARD-eligible offense.
Choosing the Right Drug Possession Diversion Program
Each of the Bucks County Drug Possession Diversion Programs has its own rules, conditions and treatment requirements. Therefore, you must hire a lawyer who has a thorough understanding of each program’s admission and application process. I have over 15 years of experience helping individuals apply for and successfully complete all the various first-time offender programs for drug possession charges. I can determine which program will give you the best chance of having your drug charge dismissed and your record expunged.
Start With a Strong Defense
If you have been charged with a drug possession offense in Bucks County, you may be able to avoid a permanent criminal record. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Contact me for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.