There are few things in this world that evoke our passions as intensely as family.  The extreme feelings that exist between couples, parents & children, and siblings are exceptional and run quite deep.  Sometimes these emotions boil over and can lead to violence.  Philadelphia, understanding that these terrible situations sometimes occur, implemented a very distinctive Domestic Violence Diversion program.  Part 4 of our ongoing series will explain the Domestic Violence Diversion program along with its benefits and requirements.

Domestic Violence Image

All diversionary programs have a list of requirements, and acceptance into the programs are entirely at the sole discretion of the District Attorney’s Office.  The Domestic Violence Diversion program, much like AMP, consists of two levels simply labeled as Tier I and Tier II.  However, unlike other programs it has a more stringent list of requirements.  (You can learn more about AMP by clicking on it where you will be redirected to a previous blog post).  To be considered for Domestic Violence Diversion, the potential participant must meet the following conditions:

  • Charged with a domestic violence misdemeanor for the first time;
  • The charge must not involve strangulation, a use of a weapon, serious injury, or sexual abuse;
  • May not be on probation or parole for a felony;
  • Have any revoked probations;
  • Have 2 or more open misdemeanor cases;
  • Have been sentenced to prison for a violent felony within the last 10 years;
  • May not have an excessive amount of Bench Warrants.

Also, any referrals to the program must be made in a very specific time frame, so any delays can affect a person’s ability to get into the Domestic Violence Diversion program.  Generally, the Domestic Violence Diversion program lasts around six months, however, if treatment is required, the length of the program will be determined by the length of the treatment.

The Domestic Violence Diversion program also makes determinations based upon whether those involved are an intimate or non-intimate party.  An intimate partner is defined as a spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, or same sex partner.  Non-intimate refers to cases where there is a blood or familial relationship.  If the participant is classified as intimate they will be required to complete treatment at a Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP)[1].  Non-intimate participants will be required to complete outpatient treatment in a program designed to teach coping skills and anger management.

The District Attorney’s office uses the participant’s history of arrests, convictions, and severity of the incident to determine whether the participant will be admitted to either Tier I or Tier II.  If a participant is accepted to Tier I, their case will be held open, meaning no plea will be entered.  The participant will have a status listing in court 30 days after entry into the program, and continued statuses every 45 days until treatment is completed.  Tier II participants will follow a similar path, except they must enter a conditional plea of guilty which will remain open during the course of treatment.  As with all diversionary programs, the participant must remain arrest free whilst participating in the program.   Furthermore, the participant must pay any restitution, court costs & fines, and comply with all aspects of the treatment program.  If the participant completes the program successfully the case will be withdrawn.  If a Tier I participant successfully completes the Domestic Violence Diversion program, after one year, they may petition to have the case expunged.  (To learn more about expungements, read our previous blog post.  Just click on the word expungement and you will be sent directly there).

Is the Domestic Violence Diversion program right for you?  It may be.  It can be an excellent way to get treatment and have your case dismissed and possibly expunged.  However, you should not enter the program if you want to fight the charges.  With the many requirements, and all the different options and the variety of defenses that may be available to fight the charges, it is important to discuss your case with a competent lawyer so that you can receive the best possible outcome.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for domestic violence, 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.

[1] To learn more about a batterer’s intervention program you can visit https://goo.gl/gLmLpJ

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