Do You Qualify for York County’s Drug Court Program?
In recent blog posts, our Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyers have been covering some of the different drug court programs offered throughout the state’s eastern counties. These special alternative programs offer drug offenders the chance to avoid jail, end probation, and seal their criminal records in exchange for successfully completing supervised treatment plans. However, the rules, requirements, and eligibility criteria vary by county. In this post, we’ll be taking a look at the York County drug court program. Could you qualify?
Eligibility Criteria for York County’s Drug Court Program
There are major benefits to participating in drug court. Not only will you gain access to treatment resources and education and training programs, your charges will qualify to be reduced or even completely dismissed six months after you graduate. Having your charges reduced or dismissed can make a world of positive difference when it comes to looking for jobs and applying for loans and housing.
Unfortunately, not everyone will qualify to participate in the program. The following offenses are automatically disqualified:
- Violent felonies, such as aggravated assault or robbery.
- Weapons crimes and offenses involving firearms.
- DUI in York County.
- Sex offenses.
Provided your offense is not on the list above, you also need to meet the following eligibility criteria:
- You must be a York County resident.
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must have a diagnosed substance abuse problem. (Offenders with mental health disorders will also be considered.)
- There can’t be any charges pending against you which would render you ineligible (such as a violent felony).
Note that in some rare cases, offenses which would normally be disqualified may be reviewed by the District Attorney for possible inclusion. Even if you’re initially rejected, you may be able to get a second chance by filing for reconsideration within 30 days of being denied entry. Even if you’re unsure about whether you qualify, it’s always worthwhile to speak with a Bucks County criminal defense attorney about your situation and the potential options going forward.
Requirements for Drug Court Program Participants
You can think of participation in the drug program as a trade. In exchange for lightening or eliminating your charges once you graduate, the court system expects you to obey the program’s rules and requirements.
To begin with, you need to complete at least 12 months of treatment. (Note that some offenders can take as long as 18 to 24 months to go through the program.) The program is further broken down into three phases, whose requirements may include, but are not limited to:
- Making all required court appearances.
- Undergoing physical and mental health evaluations, and getting any medical care ordered.
- Performing community service. (Community service is broken up by phase, but you will need at least 50 hours to graduate from the program.)
- Submitting to drug testing.
- Meeting with your probation officer.
- Receiving counseling.
- Getting a sponsor.
- Avoiding any additional arrests.
- Finding employment.
- Participating in program-approved “pro-social activities.”
- Paying all of the required fines and fees.
- Getting your GED (or supplying a copy of your high school diploma if you’ve already graduated).
- Going to drug and/or alcohol support groups as ordered.
Drug testing is a particularly important component of the program, and participants are even required to check in on a daily basis to determine whether they will be tested the following day. The drug testing schedule is as follows:
- Monday through Friday:
- 8:30 A.M. to 9:00 A.M.
- 3:30 P.M. to 4:00 P.M.
- Saturday and Sunday:
- 9:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M.
Why is this schedule so important to know? If you miss a screening, it will be treated like a failed drug test.
What Happens if You Violate the Rules?
If you violate the program’s rules, there can be harsh consequences.
Failing a drug test, for example, is a common violation. If you fail a drug test, not only will you will be incarcerated for 48 hours, you can also be terminated from the program altogether. If you are terminated, you will be investigated and given a new jail or prison sentence. On a similar note, if you try to tamper with the results of a drug test, you will be charged with a new misdemeanor which could result in fines and jail time of its own — not to mention being ejected from the program and missing your opportunity to have your original charges dismissed.
In addition to the risk of being ejected from the program, there are other unpleasant consequences for lesser violations. If you fail to comply with program requirements or are cited for anything deemed to be “inappropriate behavior,” you could be subject to:
- Increased frequency of urine testing.
- A greater degree of supervision.
- Short-term incarceration.
- Additional community service requirements.
On the other hand, outstanding participants can be rewarded with gift cards, bus passes, a decrease in overall supervision, being “moved up” in the phases completed, and being allowed to leave court appearances early.
Our Pennsylvania Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers Can Help
If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, the York County defense attorneys of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates can help. To schedule a free and confidential case evaluation, call our law offices at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania today.