THE CHOICE IS YOURS (TCY):

Recognizing that growing up in Philadelphia can be very challenging and to combat the school to prison pipeline, Philadelphia implemented a unique diversionary program called The Choice is Yours (TCY)[i].  In our ongoing series about different diversionary programs, Part 3 will explain TCY and its benefits and requirements.

The Philadelphia Court System in conjunction with the Community College of Philadelphia operates the yearlong program where eligible participants can earn college credits, learn job skills, and keep their criminal record clean of any felony convictions.

If you are a Philadelphia resident between the ages of 18 and 30 years old with a high school diploma or G.E.D., and facing your first Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID) charge you may be eligible for this very unique program.  Acceptance into this program, as with all diversionary programs, is at the sole discretion of the District Attorney’s Office.  When offered TCY, the potential participant must waive their preliminary hearing and agree to a one month TCY orientation.  To successfully complete the orientation, the applicant must 1) be on time and attend the program every day; 2) compile personal documents; 3) participate in workshops, classes and individual coaching sessions; 4) complete a required number of community service hours; and 5) any other activities as determined by the TCY staff.

If an applicant is not recommended for the TCY Program, after the orientation, then their case will be removed from the TCY Program and may proceed to trial.  However, if the applicant successfully completes the orientation they will officially enter the TCY Program by entering a nolo contendere (also known as a no contest) plea and begin the one year TCY Program.  During the TCY Program participants engage in a variety of activities including:  job readiness training; computer classes; education and skills training; community service; job placement and advancement; mentoring; and regular court check-ins with the TCY judge.  Knowing how difficult the transition to this type of rigorous, school environment can be, the participant is not immediately kicked out if they fail to comply with the requirements of the program.  Rather, they are given graduated sanctions and every opportunity to succeed.

If an individual is terminated from the program prior to its completion, they will have a guilty verdict entered by the Court and be sentenced accordingly.  However, if a participant successfully completes the TCY program, the Court will dismiss the case against them with prejudice meaning, the District Attorney cannot prosecute them on those charges.  Furthermore, if the participant does not get convicted of another crime within one year from successful completion of the TCY Program and they have paid all court costs and lab fees, the case will be expunged.  (To learn more about expungements, read our previous blog post.  Just click on the word expungement and you will be sent directly there).

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a drug case, you need to hire an experienced attorney NOW.  At DiMuzio Zerounian, LLC we have the experience and the knowledge to guide you through all aspects of this serious and very trying process.  Call our offices for a free consultation 267.479.4044.

[i] The press release introducing The Choice is Yours program can be found at https://goo.gl/fqmQAZ

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