Similar to the ARD program available in Pennsylvania for certain first-time DUI offenders, Section 17 of The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act allows for certain first-time offenders of nonviolent drug possession offenses in PA to undergo a period of probation and have their charges legally dismissed. This process is known as Probation Without Verdict (PWV), or Section 17 probation.
The Pennsylvania Section 17 probation program is not for everyone, much like ARD. The PA Section 17 probation program is designed for those who are dependent on drugs and who are able to prove their dependence to the court. A person must be accepted into the Section 17 probation program based on certain criteria. Section 17 probation is meant to help those with a drug problem in PA, not just anyone who is charged with certain drug offenses. If there are any prior drug offense convictions on your record, a misdemeanor or felony, or a number of other situations, you will not be eligible for this program. It is important to have an experienced PA drug possession lawyer to represent you throughout this process who will work diligently to gain your acceptance into the program.
Drug Possession Lawyers in Norristown, Pennsylvania
The Martin Law Firm is an experienced Montgomery County, PA criminal defense law firm. Our skilled drug possession lawyers represent clients in Norristown, PA as well as the surrounding areas in southeast Pennsylvania for drug-related offenses, including clients who may be eligible for Pennsylvania Section 17 probation. Your drug possession lawyer will work diligently to gain acceptance for you into the PWV program in order to minimize the impact of the drug charges on your life. Contact an experienced Pennsylvania drug possession lawyer at The Martin Law Firm for a free case evaluation of your pending Norristown, PA drug possession charge. Call The Martin Law Firm at 215-646-3980, or click below to send us an email.
Expungement for First-Time Drug Possession in Pennsylvania
Once you have completed Section 17 probation without further incident or other disqualification, your lawyer will then petition the court in Norristown, PA to have your criminal record expunged. Expungement is a legal process available in Pennsylvania through which an arrest or conviction may be erased from a person’s criminal record forever. If you are a first-time offender who has qualified and successfully completed Section 17 probation or ARD, expungement provides a second chance to continue your life without a criminal record. This is particularly important for those with jobs that require security clearance or criminal background checks. Having an experienced Pennsylvania lawyer to guide you is extremely important, as the expungement process can be tedious, lengthy, and difficult to navigate.
In order to obtain an expungement in Norristown, PA, your lawyer must petition the appropriate court. A court order must be obtained stating that all criminal records relating to the offenses leading to your Section 17 probation are destroyed and erased. This includes arrest records, fingerprints, criminal dockets, photographs, etc. It is important to have an experienced attorney who will not only guide you through this process, but who will also ensure that all agencies with any record of your arrest destroy such records. A smart PA drug possession lawyer will also make sure that affidavits detailing your completion of Section 17 probation as well as your expungement are retained in the event that they are needed in the future.
Section 17 Probation Without Verdict.
Except as provided in clause (1) of this subsection, the court may place a person on probation without verdict if the person pleads nolo contendere or guilty to any nonviolent offense under this act and the person proves he is drug dependent. For the purposes of proving drug dependency, the person must present the testimony of a physician or psychologist trained in the field of drug abuse. The term of probation shall be for a specific time period not to exceed the maximum for the offense upon such reasonable terms and conditions as the court may require.
The following persons shall be ineligible for probation without verdict:
- Any person who has previously been convicted of an offense under this act or similar act of the United States or any other state.
- Any person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor of felony in this Commonwealth or an equivalent crime under the laws of any other state.
- Any person who has been placed on Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition where the person was charged with a violation of this act or the commission of a misdemeanor or felony in this Commonwealth.
- Any person who is charged with or has pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to multiple offenses which are based on separate conduct or arise from separate criminal episodes such that those offenses could be tried separately in accordance with 18 Pa. C.S. § 110 (relating to when prosecution barred by former prosecution for different offense).
- Any person who is a dangerous juvenile offender under 42 Pa. C.S. § 6302 (relating to definitions) or who was adjudicated delinquent for conduct which could constitute a violation of clause (30) or (37) of subsection (a) of section 13 of this act.
- Any person who is charged with violating clause (14), (30) or (37) of subsection (a) of section 13 of this act.
Upon violation of a term or condition of probation, the court may enter a judgment and proceed as in any criminal case, or may continue the probation without verdict.
Upon fulfillment of the terms and conditions of probation, the court shall discharge such person and dismiss the proceedings against him. Discharge and dismissal shall be without adjudication of guilt and shall not constitute a conviction for any purpose whatsoever, including the penalties imposed for second or subsequent convictions: Provided, that probation without verdict shall be available to any person only once: And further provided, that notwithstanding any other provision of this act, the prosecuting attorney or the court, and the council shall keep a list of those persons placed on probation without verdict, which list may only be used to determine the eligibility of persons for probation without verdict and the names on such lists may be used for no other purpose whatsoever.