- Public Defender
- Diversionary Programs
A variety of programs are available to our clients that upon successful completion may result in criminal charges being dismissed or downgraded. They include:
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition is a program for persons with pending charges that are first-time, nonviolent offenses such as DU ls and retail theft offenses. Persons make application with the District Attorney's Office and if approved, are given various conditions to complete during a non-reporting period. These conditions can include, but are not limited to, payment of court costs and restitution, community service and treatment requirements such as drug and alcohol evaluations. Once the conditions are completed and if the participant has not incurred any additional charges, the case will be dismissed and expunged.
The District Court Diversion Program is a treatment focused program for Bucks County residents with no prior criminal record aimed at diverting misdemeanor drug offenses from the criminal justice system. Participants participate in drug treatment for 60 to 90 days, pay court costs and check in with the District Magistrate at regular intervals. Successful completion of the program will result in dismissal of the charges.
Drug Court is a treatment court which provides participants drug and alcohol treatment as an alternative to incarceration. This program is open to Bucks County residents who have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder and who have no history of violence. Participants are placed on probation for four years. The program consists of four phases which must be completed in order to graduate from the program. The program requirements include attendance at frequent court sessions, frequent meetings with a probation officer, participation in drug and alcohol treatment, NA, AA, 12 Step meetings and maintaining employment. Drug Court graduates may receive benefits such as reduction of charges, termination of supervision and reduction of court costs.
This program is a diversionary program designed to assist veterans suffering from physical, mental health and/or substance abuse issues, as a result of their military service to our country. The program is available to veterans who have been honorably discharged from any branch of the military who suffer from PTSD, substance use disorder, traumatic brain injury or military sexual trauma. Applicants to the program must provide a DD214 and an evaluation detailing their diagnosis. Once placed in the program, veterans will have their case continued for six months. During that period, they must engage in recommended treatment or therapies, meet with a probation officer and complete community service. In addition, each participant is assigned a mentor, who is also a veteran, with whom they must have regular contact. After six months, the participant will either continue in the program for an additional six months or return to court to enter the agreed disposition of their case. Each veteran is aware, prior to entry into the program, what the disposition of their case will be. Such proposed dispositions can include guilty pleas to reduced charges, placement in the ARD program or an agreement to a term of probation rather than imprisonment.
The YOP program is for individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 who have committed a nonviolent, first offense felony. Upon completion of the program requirements, the participant will be plead guilty to misdemeanor offenses and receive a short probationary sentence. Most male clients attend the Diakon Program which is a 30-day wilderness program which runs twice a year. While waiting for the program to begin, clients participate in pre-trial supervision. The cost of the program is $6500, but scholarships are available. Female clients (and some males) participate in a pre-trial probation with conditions to be completed that are tailored to their individual treatment needs.
35 P.S. section 780-117, or section 17, provides that a court may place a person on probation without verdict if the person pleads guilty or nolo contendere to any nonviolent drug offense and the person is deemed drug dependent. This disposition in Bucks County is generally reserved for first time, misdemeanor drug offenses. The drug dependency proof requirement can be satisfied by the client obtaining a letter from a physician or psychologist trained in the field of drug abuse. Once the plea is entered, the person is then placed on a term of probation. Once the terms and conditions of probation is complete, the charges are dismissed.