Young Offenders Specialty Court

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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 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 a nolo contendere plea to the Criminal Information that is filed by the Delaware County Office of the District Attorney.  The nolo contendere plea held in abeyance pending the participant’s enrollment and successful completion of the Young Offender Program.  Participants in the program are expected to maintain employment and/or a full time educational program.  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(s).  With the successful completion of the Program, sentencing 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 and the all the requirements for any reason shall result in the acceptance of the entire tendered plea and sentencing.


Eligibility is considered on a case by case basis.  In order 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 criminal case must not have additional crimes (Title 18) or non-summary vehicle offenses.
  • No prior convictions.
  • No additional open criminal cases.
  • No prior participation in the Young Offender Program.
  • No history of violence.
  • Object offense may not involve the possession and/or use of any 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.
  • 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 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 Drug Treatment Court when:
  • (1) Higher level of care needed - these cases can be referred to Delaware County Drug Treatment Court Program – “Track II”, and
    (2) Defendant will be eligible for the same benefit of the Young Offender program but will be placed in a drug treatment track to address the addiction and any co-occurring disorders and additional treatment needs (that exceed the scope of the Young Offender Program).

INELIGIBILITY:  (Note: List is not exhaustive. See attachment to application.)

Defendant will be ineligible if the defendant has a pending charge for ANY other criminal (non-marijuana related) offenses, including the following: Crime of Violence (including Burglary), Crime involving a firearm and/or weapon (misdemeanor or felony), Sexually based offenses and Crimes against children , Manufacture/Delivery of a Controlled Substance (other than marijuana).

Defendant is ineligible if 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 over-the-counter medications that affect the integrity and accuracy of drug screening and program participation.

Defendant has been previously admitted in the Young Offender Program.

Defendant is unwilling to undergo strict court supervision


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 contendre 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.

6.     Mandatory Marijuana Drug Education Program (currently offered at Key Recovery in Brookhaven, Pennsylvania) or other approved 15-week Therapeutic/ Drug Educational Program.  Must attend and complete any and all aftercare recommendations.

7.     Must obtain a High School Diploma or equivalent prior to completion.

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 and frequent urine screens.

10.  No new arrests.

11.  Must remain drug and alcohol free throughout the program.

12.  Must make restitution and pay court costs and costs of prosecution.

13.  Must pay program fee required upon admission (waivable for indigent applicants).

Young Offender Program File Downloads:


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