Can I Avoid a Criminal Record if I Enter the Summary Diversion Program in Philadelphia?

Can I Avoid a Criminal Re…

What is a Summary Diversion Program? Can I Avoid a Criminal Record if I Enter the Summary Diversion Program in Philadelphia?

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and many of the offices in the various counties within Pennsylvania have developed special programs as an alternative to going to trial or simply pleading guilty and paying court costs and fines. These programs are often appropriate for defendants whom have never been arrested or previously convicted of a crime, the evidence against them is compelling, and they have been charged with a summary offense such as Disorderly Conduct, Underage Drinking, or Criminal Trespass.

Disorderly Conduct (§ 5503) is often charged when the defendant has been accused of engaging in fighting or threatening behavior, making unreasonable noise, using obscene language (cursing), or where the defendant “creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose,” a fancy legal phrase for creating a ruckus.

Underage Drinking (§ 6308) is charged when the minor defendant is below the age of 21 and is observed consuming alcohol in a bar or in the streets of Philadelphia. We often see Underage Drinking citations given at Philadelphia sporting events for the Eagles, Sixers, and Flyers, and at college parties at Temple University, Drexel University, University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University and St. Joseph’s University. A minor may also be charged with Underage Drinking if he or she, being less than 21 years of age, attempts to purchase, purchases, or knowingly and intentionally transports alcohol.

Criminal Trespass (§ 3503) is charged when the person knowingly enters a building or occupied structure, such as a store, restaurant, casino or bar, and does so even though they also know that they are not permitted to be there. We often see clients charged with Criminal Trespass graded as a summary offense when they have been previously ejected from a bar or casino, such as Sugar House, and have been placed on an eviction list banning the client from ever entering the premises.

If you are unsure whether you have been charged with a summary offense, call Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Lauren A. Wimmer at (215) 712-1212. We’ll gather your information and look up your case to determine whether you have been charged with a summary offense and whether you are eligible to enter the Summary Diversion Program. Some cases in Philadelphia are automatically diverted to the Summary Diversion Program. Other cases require you to apply. Either way, having a skilled defense attorney discuss the facts of your case with you after a thorough review of the police report is the first step in determining whether you are eligible for the Summary Diversion Program and if so, whether entering the program based on the evidence in your case is the best option for you.

If you are admitted to the Summary Diversion Program, your case will be scheduled for a status listing or hearing in Courtroom 404 of the Criminal Justice Center, 1301 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107. At this time, you will be given the option to enter the Summary Diversion Program or reject the program and get a date for trial.

If you choose to enter the Summary Diversion Program, you will be enrolled in the Summary Diversion Program Class. This class is conducted by the Philadelphia Municipal Court. All classes are held on Saturdays at either 9:00 A.M. or 1:00 P.M. in the First Floor Jury Selection Room at the Criminal Justice Center and begin promptly.

Upon completion of the class and payment of all court costs and fines, you will be immediately eligible for expungement. The expungement process may take up to one year. However, if you hire Wimmer Criminal Defense, we are able to file the expungement petition for you which will expedite the process of erasing the arrest and summary offense from your criminal record or “rap sheet.”

In Philadelphia, the cost of the class for the Summary Diversion Program is $200.00, two hundred dollars. Full payment is required on the class date and must be made by money order payable to the City of Philadelphia. No personal checks are accepted. If you successfully complete the class and all financial obligations to the court, you will not be required to appear in court again.

If you have been charged with a summary offense in Philadelphia or any of the counties in Pennsylvania, call criminal defense attorney Lauren A. Wimmer of Wimmer Criminal Defense Law at (215) 712-1212 or contact us here to discuss your rights and options. We’ll answer all of your questions and put you at ease when it comes to navigating the criminal court system. We have a record of success in fighting summary charges; your case will be no different.