Young Offender Program
Delaware County’s Young Offender Program is a voluntary presentence intensive program for low-risk first time young adult offenders that are currently charged with a felony marijuana drug case. This program allows the young adult offender the opportunity to avoid a felony conviction and enter into an intensive program while under the supervision of the Office of Adult Probation and Parole and Young Offender Program Judge. The Young Offender Program is an eighteen (18) month program for non-violent first time offenders who have been arrested for a violation of the Pennsylvania Drug Act, Possession with the Intent to Deliver/ Delivery/ Manufacturing less than one pound of Marijuana and Possession with the Intent to Deliver/ Delivery/ Manufacturing a Noncontrolled Substance (marijuana, THC and its derivatives, and synthetic marijuana), Title 35 §780-113(a)(30) & (35).
Participants must waive the preliminary hearing and immediately file an application for the Young Offender Program. Accepted applicants will be scheduled for an admission hearing in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas before the presiding Judge of the Young Offender Program. Applicants will tender an open nolo contendere plea to the Criminal Information that is filed by the Delaware County Office of the District Attorney. The nolo contendere plea will be held in abeyance pending the participant’s enrollment and successful completion of the Young Offender Program. Participants in the program are expected to reside in Delaware County and maintain employment and/or a full-time educational program throughout the eighteen months of intensive court supervision. Successful completion of the Program shall result in the dismissal of the felony charge and acceptance of the plea and sentencing on the remaining misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance offense. With the successful completion of the Program, a sentencing hearing will be scheduled just prior to the final 18th month of supervision and will require thirty (30) additional days of probation. Failure to complete the program requirements and recommendations, for any reason, shall result in the removal from the program and acceptance of the entire tendered plea and sentencing.
HOW TO APPLY:
1. Download application and review all program requirements and eligibility criteria with defense counsel.
2. Complete the application (attached pages 4, 5 & 6) and submit via email to District Attorney’s Office and Program Coordinator.
3. Application will be reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office and defense counsel will receive a response from the District Attorney’s Office advising if the applications has been accepted and if the defendant meets eligibility criteria.
4. Accepted applicants will then receive notice to appear for a biopsychosocial evaluation to determine final eligibility.
5. Eligible applicants will receive a notice to appear at an admission/plea hearing before the Young Offender Program judge only after completing the biopsychosocial evaluation.
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Eligibility is considered on a case by case basis. To be eligible to participate, the defendant must meet the following criteria:
• Offender must be between 18-25 years of age at the time of the offense.
• Amount of marijuana is less than one (1) pound or less than ten (<10) plants.
• Pending case may not have additional crimes (Title 18) or non-summary vehicle offenses.
• Object offense may not involve the possession or use of a firearm or weapon.
• Willingness to undergo strict court supervision.
• Risk/ Needs Assessment shows offender to be “Low risk, low need.”
• Must undergo a Biopsychosocial evaluation to assess eligibility.
• Required Delaware County residency throughout the eighteen months of program.
• The Biopsychosocial Evaluation and the Risk/Needs Assessment will determine if defendant is drug dependent and in need of treatment (e.g higher level of care).
• If eligible applicant does not meet DSM-V diagnostic criteria (e.g. not in need of intensive drug addiction treatment and/or dual-diagnosed mental health treatment) he/she will be admitted into the Young Offender Program.
• Alternatively, if the applicant meets the DSM-V diagnostic criteria for drug addiction and/or a co-occurring mental health disorder, the applicant will be ineligible for Young Offender Program but will be offered the opportunity to enroll in Treatment Court:
o Higher level of care needed - these cases can be referred to Delaware County Drug Treatment Court Program – “Track II”
o Defendant will be eligible for the same benefit of the Young Offender program but will be placed in a treatment track to address the addiction and any co-occurring disorders and additional treatment needs.
DISQUALIFICATION CRITERIA: The following is a list that will disqualify an applicant from being eligible for the program. (Note: List below and appended to application is not exhaustive and should be used only as a guide. See attachment to application regarding juvenile adjudications.)
• Defendant has a pending charge for ANY additional crimes/ offenses.
• Current case involves possession of a firearm or any weapon.
• Manufacture/Delivery of a Controlled Substance (other than < 1lb. marijuana).
• No prior convictions nor any additional pending criminal cases.
• No prior participation in the Young Offender Program.
• No history of violence.
• Defendant is unwilling to undergo strict court supervision.
• Defendant is unwilling to maintain Delaware County residency for entirety of program.
• Defendant is seriously and persistently mentally ill which renders him/her unable to participate in the structure of the Young Offender Program.
• Defendant is unwilling/unable to terminate use of lawfully prescribed controlled substances and substances that affect the integrity and accuracy of drug screening and program participation.
REQUIREMENTS OF THE PROGRAM:
1. The Young Offender Program is an 18 month program which will require Delaware County residency throughout the eighteen months of intensive court supervision.
2. Must tender an open-nolo contendere plea to felony and misdemeanor offenses at time of admission into the program and the Court will take the tendered plea under advisement pending the defendant’s enrollment and successful completion of the Young Offender Program.
3. Report to probation officer on a weekly basis in first phase but will gradually reduce in frequency upon candidate’s matriculation through the eighteen (18) month program. Frequency will increase if participant is not in compliance with the Program.
4. Report for court review hearing on a bi-weekly basis in the first phase but will gradually reduce in frequency upon candidate’s matriculation through the eighteen (18) month program. Frequency will increase if participant is not in compliance with the Program.
5. Perform 180 hours of Community Service within the first eight (8) months of admission.
6. Mandatory Marijuana Therapeutic Education Program (currently offered at Crozer Community Campus). Must attend and complete any and all treatment and/or aftercare recommendations.
7. Must obtain a High School Diploma or equivalent prior to completion of the program.
8. Must obtain and maintain employment or full-time educational course of study and/or vocational program throughout the duration of the program. If offender is unemployed, then offender must be actively seeking employment and verified through probation department on a weekly basis.
9. Submit mandatory random urine screens.
10. No new arrests.
11. Must remain drug and alcohol free throughout the program.
12. Must make restitution and pay all court costs and costs of prosecution.
13. Must pay program fee required upon admission (waivable for indigent applicants).
SUBMITTING THE APPLICATION:
1. Application (pages 4, 5 & 6 only) shall be completed by the applicant and defense counsel.
2. Application must include an attached copy of the criminal complaint of the pending criminal case for which the defendant is seeking admission into the Young Offender Program.
3. Application submitted without the criminal complaint and supporting affidavit of probable cause attached will not be considered.
4. Application SHALL be submitted by e-mail to the attention of each person listed below:
Sharon H. McKenna, Deputy District Attorney, Delaware County District Attorney’s Office
Linda Barbera, Program Coordinator, Delaware County Probation and Parole Services
5. Application will be reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office to determine eligibility. Defense counsel will receive a response from the District Attorney’s Office advising if the applications has been accepted and if the defendant meets eligibility criteria.