How to Avoid a Criminal Record for First-Time Offenders

If you have a criminal record, it can seriously impact your life. A conviction can cause you to lose your job or to have problems finding a new position. Some convictions may cause you to lose your ability to get financial aid for school. You could also lose your government benefits and have trouble getting into a college of your choice or into the military. If you are a first-time offender of a minor offense, you might be able to participate in a diversion program to avoid a conviction.

Every county in Pennsylvania has its own district attorney’s office. These offices have their own diversion programs and admission requirements. At DiCindio Law, we can advise you about whether you might qualify for a diversion program and help you to apply if you do. The benefit of these programs is that your charges could be withdrawn, and you might be able to have them expunged from your record. Some of the diversion programs that are available in Chester County include the following:

• Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program or ARD
• Drug Court
• Mental Health Court pre-plea or post-plea diversion

What is a diversion program?

A diversion program allows you to have your criminal case diverted away from going to trial. Depending on whether your diversion is pre- or post-plea, you might not have to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. You may be assigned a probation officer who will supervise your progress in the diversion program. When you successfully complete it, the charges against you may be dismissed or withdrawn. They can then be expunged from your record. Commonly, these programs require you to pay fines, perform community service, attend drug and alcohol treatment, and attend other classes. You may also be required to meet with the probation officer and to submit to drug and alcohol tests. If you are placed in a diversion program, it is important that you comply with all of the instructions so that you can complete it and have your charges dismissed.

The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD)

The ARD program was created by statute and is available in all counties in Pennsylvania. If you do not have any prior arrests or have a very limited history, you might be eligible for the ARD program. The ARD program may be available to you if you are facing charges for a low-level misdemeanor, including the following types (depending on the county you are charged in):

  • DUI
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Theft
  • Harassment
  • Simple assault
  • Criminal mischief
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Retail theft
  • Passing bad checks
  • Simple possession

The District Attorney determines who can be admitted into the ARD program. Even if you are facing one of the previously listed charges, the circumstances might result in you being rejected from ARD. Conversely, if you have been overcharged, it is possible that you might gain admission to ARD even if you are facing more serious charges.

Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney may help you to gain admission to the ARD program. An attorney might know how to complete the application and who to talk to at the DA’s office in order to give you the best chances of being admitted.

Drug Court

The Chester County Drug Court Program was the second such program in the state of Pennsylvania. This program is available to people who are charged with non-mandatory drug crimes or DUIs with drug offenses who do not have any record of violent offenses. In order to be eligible to participate, you must waive your right to a preliminary hearing and legally reside in the U.S.

The District Attorney has discretion about who to admit to the drug court program. Your lawyer can submit an application on your behalf, and you will have to complete a drug and alcohol assessment. If you are accepted, you will be assigned to a probation officer for intensive supervision. You will go through several phases during the program, and you must submit to drug and alcohol tests, appear before the court for regular reviews, and comply with all of the program’s rules. You will also have to actively seek or maintain a job or engage in productive activity each day and pay costs and fines. If you successfully complete all of the phases of the drug court program, maintain your sobriety, and have stable employment (among potential other conditions) the court will dismiss your charges and you can expunge them from your record.

If you violate any of the conditions of the drug court program, you can be removed from it or receive sanctions. The program takes from 12 to 24 months and goes through four phases. If you violate the program, the program may last longer. If you are removed from it, you will face the underlying charges and will have to handle them through the regular criminal court process.

Mental health court

The mental health court program is available on a pre-plea or post-plea diversionary basis or as a referral from probation. You may be eligible for mental health court if you are diagnosed with a mental illness or a dual diagnosis of a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder and have been charged with a misdemeanor or certain felony offenses. The mental health court staff complete screenings to determine eligibility. If you are accepted into the program, you will move through four phases. If your participation was completed on a pre-plea diversionary basis, the charges may be dismissed upon your successful completion. If you were referred and accepted to the program on a post-plea diversionary basis, you will be required to complete the programs supervision requirements after pleading guilty.

Contact DiCindio Law

If you are a first offender of a low-level misdemeanor offense or are facing charges for certain felony drug offenses, you may be eligible for a diversion program. Contact DiCindio Law to learn more about diversion and whether it might be a good choice for you.


DISCLAIMER
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

DiCindio Law, LLC opens newly renovated West Chester Office

DiCindio Law, LLC opens newly renovated West Chester Office building.

Located in downtown West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania and built in 1900 – the firm’s building has undergone a top to bottom renovation/restoration with the idea of preserving and repairing the building to the beauty it once was and providing Mike’s client’s with a comfortable and accessible office location and atmosphere.

Mike DiCindio looks forward to continuing to serve his current and future client’s for years to come at this new location.

West Chester Criminal Lawyer and West Chester Personal Injury Lawyer

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Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana – Other forms

Sentencing guidelines provide Courts in Pennsylvania with the ability to have a standard range of sentences that are imposed for certain similarly situated offenders and crimes.  One of the major aims of these guidelines is to have a level of consistency in sentencing.  Each crime is assigned an offense gravity score which when combined with an offender’s prior record score on a sentencing grid provides the sentencing guidelines (all established by the legislature).

One common drug charge in Pennsylvania is distribution of marijuana.  Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana is a crime that is common but has also become more complicated in recent years.  In the past the only substance that was typically being sold or possessed was the actual marijuana / seeds or the plant alone.  Recently, possessing oils and other forms of THC outside of the plant and seeds creates enhanced potential sentencing penalties – and is being seen more often.  In a case where only marijuana is possessed and/or sold the sentencing guidelines may not be as high as they would be in the event that THC oil was possessed and/or sold.  This is because the THC oil is not included in the definition of marijuana in the controlled substance act of Pennsylvania. Therefore, it would be treated as a general schedule I/II controlled substance which has a higher offense gravity score under PA law.

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense - Conspiracy Cases

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

Despite the recent decriminalization talks throughout the country and the state it is important to remember that marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania and possessing different forms of it may create complications or higher potential penalties.

 “Marihuana” consists of all forms, species and/or varieties of the genus Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not;  the seeds thereof;  the resin extracted from any part of such plant;  and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin;  but shall not include tetrahydrocannabinols, the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination. (See, Pennsylvania Statutes Title 35 P.S. Health and Safety § 780-102 § 780-102. Definitions


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Rule 600 in Pennsylvania

The wheels of justice turn slowly. An old saying that we who practice in the criminal defense field think about weekly – if not daily. Even though the slow crawl that criminal cases sometimes take is to be expected at times, it is important to understand that as an individual charged with a crime in the state of Pennsylvania, you have a right to a prompt trial and resolution to your case.

Criminal Defense Chester County

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

First, it must be noted that the prompt trial rule or “Rule 600” is different than the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the amount of time that the government has to CHARGE an individual with a crime or forever be barred from doing so. Rule 600 and the prompt trial requirements instead deal with the amount of time the government has to prosecute a person once they have been charged.

There are two main portions of Rule 600. First, that the government has 365 days to commence trial once charges have been brought. If they do not do that, a motion must be filed by the defense and the charges will be dismissed with prejudice if a violation of this time limit has been found by the Court. Second, no person may be held in custody on bail for longer than 180 from the commencement of the prosecution. If this occurs the defense must file a motion and if a violation is found by the Court the defendant will be placed on nominal bail.

Obviously, this is subject to limitations and the unique circumstances of each case dictate the strength of a Rule 600 motion. For example, one of the main limitations is that time extensions requested by the defense or not attributable to the prosecution are not counted in the 365 or 180 day time period – among other things.

If you or a loved one believe that you may have a prompt trial issue or if you have been charged with a criminal offense at all, contact Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. at DiCindio Law, LLC for all of your criminal needs and begin preparing your defense today.

 

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The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Credit for Time Served in Inpatient Facilities – DUI Cases

Credit for Time Served In Inpatient Facilities – DUI Cases

When someone has been arrested and is pending trial there are decisions that need to be made based upon the needs of the person and the strategy of the case.  Some of these decisions will be made by the individual and others may be made or dictated to them by the Judge.  One of the decisions is whether or not someone needs to be placed into an inpatient rehabilitation facility in order to address a substance abuse issue.  Most often, this arises out of DUI or driving under the influence / driving while impaired cases.

Voluntary treatment is treated differently than Court ordered treatment

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

What is important to know is that when someone is placed into inpatient as a condition of bail in lieu of pre-trial incarceration they are entitled to have that time spent in inpatient count against any jail sentence they may be later sentenced to. Commonwealth v. Cozzone, 593 A. 2d 860 (Pa. Super. 1991).  Alternatively, if someone voluntarily gone to inpatient on their own accord it may be credited towards their sentence but only if the sentencing Judge, in his/her discretion decides to grant the credit.

The lesson to take from this is that when someone is in the criminal system, facing incarceration and ends up in an inpatient rehabilitation for any reason – his attorney must evaluate any arguments about credit for time spent in rehab that may be available to the client in order to potentially limit the about of time in prison that ultimately must be served.

If you or a loved one needs representation on any criminal matter – contact Mike DiCindio, Esq. directly.


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Heroin Overdose Cases

A major focus of law-enforcement recent years and especially in recent months has been in preventing heroin overdose deaths from occurring. Heroin overdose cases have become an epidemic that law-enforcement, legislators and the communities at large are trying to combat. With the vicious effects of a heroin overdose, people must act fast. It is not uncommon to have two users together when one of them overdoses. Many times, people would be fearful to report the overdoses for fear of prosecution in the matter – and people would lose their lives. Recently, legislation has been enacted which is aimed at ending these types of situations and deaths and stopping the risk of certain criminal charges in these situations.

Chester County criminal defense

Contact Chester County Criminal Lawyer Mike DiCindio to discuss your case today

The recently enacted law permits individuals to call law-enforcement, emergency medical services or 911 and report a heroin overdose. If they provide their name and identifying information and stay with the individual who is overdosing they will be immune for prosecution for certain minor offenses (those are enumerated in the amended law) and the individual who overdoses is also immune. It should not be viewed and is not intended to be viewed as a license to commit illegal conduct, instead, it is aimed at helping to minimize the frequency of deaths from heroin overdoses.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or prosecuted in the circumstance that seems similar to the one described above contact criminal defense lawyer DiCindio Law, LLC today law speak in detail to Mike DiCindio about the facts and circumstances and determine whether or not the amended legislation applies to your specific situation.


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Search Warrant – What is required and how is one challenged

West Chester Criminal Lawyer

Contact Chester County Criminal Defense and DUI lawyer Mike DiCindio today.

Drug cases, gun cases and many other countless cases in the criminal system begin with a search warrant. At times, some of these cases also end with a search warrant. If a search warrant is involved in a criminal case, a criminal defense attorney should review the warrant in depth and with a fine tooth comb for all potential flaws and/or legal deficiencies.

Before a search warrant is approved, a law enforcement officer must allege facts in an affidavit of probable cause. The evidence and facts in support of a warrant must lead to the conclusion that probable cause exists to believe the items the officers are looking for are connected with criminal activity and that the items will be found in the place that to be searched under the warrant. If a neutral judge finds that probable cause exists – the search warrant will be approved.

Within the request in the warrant – the items/person being sought and the place to be searched must be described with particularity. Meaning, there should be nothing left to the discretion of the officers when they are describing the “things” to be seized AND it should give the officers ample information and description in order to allow them to identify the things and places to be searched and seized. “General” warrants are frowned upon in our system.

As a criminal defense attorney, it is important that whenever a warrant is involved in a matter, all portions and documents of the warrant must be obtain and reviewed thoroughly. If any of the requirements of the rules and constitutional protections governing the issuance of warrants seem to be lacking a motion should be filed to address this matter before the Court. If the warrant is found to be legally deficient or defective and no exception to the warrant requirement is present – the remedy may be suppression of the evidence seized.

If you or a loved one has a criminal case involving a search warrant, call West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer Mike DiCindio to schedule your free consultation.


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  Please contact DiCindio Law for a consultation and to discuss what law is relevant to your case.

Mike DiCindio is a criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale as well as in Montgomery County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, Philadelphia County, Bucks County and Berks County.