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/nolle pros of the entire case, with the opportunity for expungement of the case one year after the date of successful completion; barring no new arrests within that year. 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
- Download the application and review all program requirements and eligibility criteria with defense counsel.
- Complete the application (attached pages 4, 5 & 6) and submit via email to District Attorney’s Office and Program Coordinator.
- The 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 have been accepted and if the defendant meets eligibility criteria.
- Accepted applicants will then receive notice to appear for a biopsychosocial evaluation to determine final eligibility.
- 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 is considered on a case by case basis. To be eligible to participate, the defendant must meet the following criteria:
- Offenders must be between 18-25 years of age at the time of the offense.
- The 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 the offender to be “Low risk, low need.”
- Must undergo a Biopsychosocial evaluation to assess eligibility.
- Required Delaware County residency throughout the eighteen months of the program.
- The Biopsychosocial Evaluation and the Risk/Needs Assessment will determine if the defendant is drug dependent and in need of treatment (e.g higher level of care).
- If the 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:
- Higher level of care needed – these cases can be referred to the Delaware County Drug Treatment Court Program.
- The 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.
The following is a list that will disqualify an applicant from being eligible for the program.
(Note: List below and appended to the application is not exhaustive and should be used only as a guide. See attachment to the application regarding juvenile adjudications.)
- Defendant has a pending charge for ANY additional crimes/ offenses.
- The current case involves possession of a firearm or any weapon.
- Manufacture/Delivery of a Controlled Substance (other than < 1lb. marijuana).
- Prior convictions or any additional pending criminal cases.
- Prior participation in the Young Offender Program.
- History of violence.
- Unwillingness to undergo strict court supervision.
- Unwillingness to maintain Delaware County residency for the entirety of the program.
- Serious and/or persistent mental illness which renders him/her unable to participate in the structure of the Young Offender Program.
- Unable/unwillingness to terminate the use of lawfully prescribed controlled substances and/or substances that affect the integrity and accuracy of drug screening and program participation.
Requirements of the Program
- The Young Offender Program is an 18-month intensive court supervision program, which will require Delaware County residency throughout the entirety of the program.
- Must tender an open-nolo contendere plea to felony and misdemeanor offenses at the 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.
- Report to the probation officer on a weekly basis in the first phase, but will gradually reduce the frequency of reporting upon participant’s matriculation through the eighteen (18) months of the program. The frequency will increase if the participant is not in compliance with the Program.
- Report for a court review hearing on a bi-weekly basis in the first phase, but will gradually reduce the frequency of court reviews upon participant’s matriculation through the eighteen (18) month program. The frequency will increase if the participant is not in compliance with the Program.
- Perform 180 hours of Community Service within the first eight (8) months of admission.
- Mandatory Marijuana Therapeutic Education Program (currently offered at Crozer Community Campus). Must attend and complete any and all treatment and/or aftercare recommendations.
- Must obtain a High School Diploma or equivalent prior to completion of the program.
- Must obtain and maintain employment or full-time educational course of study and/or vocational program throughout the duration of the program. If the participant is unemployed, then the participant must be actively seeking employment and verify his/her employment search through the probation department on a weekly basis.
- Submit mandatory random urine screens.
- No new arrests.
- Must remain drug and alcohol-free throughout the program.
- Must make restitution and pay all court costs.
- Must pay program fees required upon admission (waivable for indigent applicants).