A new diversionary program for drug possession cases has been created by an Order signed by Bucks County President Judge, The Honorable Jeffrey L. Finley. Starting on July 1, 2018, those charged with drug offenses under Sections 780-113(a)(16) (possession), (31) (possession of a small amount of marijuana), and (32) (possession of drug paraphernalia) of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act shall be referred by the Magisterial District Judge for consideration in this diversion program.
This program was created to address the abuse of opioids and other drugs by offering immediate treatment for offenders charged at the earliest point in the criminal process, to allow for diversion out of the criminal justice system, and to get those who need it into treatment quickly.
The process begins by the Magisterial District Judge referring individual defendants to the District Attorney for treatment consideration for drug-related behavior problems. It is important to note that the Order says the Magisterial District Judge SHALL make the referral, so it does not appear there is any discretion there. Next, if the defendant is approved for this diversionary program, the preliminary hearing will be continued by the Magisterial District Judge, to permit an assessment of whether the defendant must participate in a drug treatment program. If the defendant is not determined to need treatment, then the defendant will be mandated to take a one-day decisions class instead.
In order to qualify for a referral when related to marijuana, the defendant must be charged with violations of Sections 780-113(a)(16), (31), or (32) of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act and must also be a resident of Bucks County; be approved by the District Attorney; waive their preliminary hearing and Rule 600 right to a speedy trial; complete the appropriate documents, including waivers related to treatment programs and other documents for the District Attorney and the Court; and agree to comply with treatment as directed by the Court.
In order to qualify for a referral of the above-listed Sections when related to any controlled substance other than marijuana, the defendant must complete all of the above qualifications and also have no prior criminal convictions.
This Order specifies that once a defendant completes all conditions imposed by the Court, undergoes a supervisory period, and pays all the associated costs, the criminal charges will be dismissed by the Judge and records of the charges will be expunged for first time offenders. The District Attorney will also have discretion to expunge any other offender’s arrest listed on the application for good cause shown. If a defendant does not complete this program, the case will proceed through the normal criminal process in the Court of Common Pleas.
To read the Order in full:
Bucks County Criminal Defense Attorneys Offering Free Consultation for Drug Charges
The new Bucks County Magisterial District Judge Diversionary Program offers immediate treatment for drug-related offenses, but you may still need representation to decide how to proceed if you’ve been charged. If you are being charged with a drug offense or other criminal charges, call Fairlie & Lippy P.C. at (215) 997-1000.