Domestic Violence Diversion Court

Domestic Violence Intervention Court (DVC) is available only to first- or second-time offenders in instances when the victim does not wish to press charges against the perpetrator. The goal is for the early intervention and placement of offenders into clinically appropriate treatment to prevent further abuse and possible death of the victim. In an attempt to intervene and assist both victim and perpetrator in domestic violence cases, the PHMC Clinical Evaluation Unit assesses the need for and arranges for participant placement, treatment authorization and payment for drug and alcohol and/or mental health treatment, case management, anger management and family therapy. Once the participant (defendant) has satisfied this treatment requirement and there have not been any further incidents or problems with the complainant/victim, the court will withdraw all prosecution and the case is discharged. The case can be expunged from the record in a process initiated by the defendant 30 days after the prosecution withdraws the case.

FAQ

How does the DVC Diversion Program work?

Once a participant is accepted into the program, the case will remain open for the next six months and the Court will supervise and monitor treatment experience (Anger Management, and in some instances, Drug & Alcohol, and/or Mental Health), and make adjustments accordingly. Supervision and monitoring is conducted through constant meetings and discussions between the Court group members (Judge, Assistant District Attorney, Public Defender, Court Coordinator and Case Manager) and providers. Progress in treatment will determine whether a participant is subpoenaed to return in two, four, six or eight weeks for follow-up.

What are the requirements to successfully complete the program?

Satisfactory compliance with treatment attendance and participation. Maintain a No Further Problems stance with the Complainant, including obeying existing Stay Away Orders, if any. Pay all court costs and fines in full.

This case was a big misunderstanding, a little nothing, no big deal. Why go through all this?

The Court may not be fully aware of all the details of each case, but the fact remains that if there is a legal case, it’s on public record, and the charges will remain until all court mandates are satisfied. It’s important to understand that someone considered the incident serious enough that it required police intervention. We strongly recommend that individuals concentrate on complying. It’s easier and more beneficial in all aspects, than to take it to trial again.

I can’t afford to pay for counseling/treatment. What should I do?

All treatment providers require payment for services rendered. Menergy and The Men’s Resource Center require cash payments prior to services dispensed, and they work on a sliding scale basis, which is based on salary. Other facilities accept diverse medical plans for Drug & Alcohol or Mental Health treatment. The Case Manager and Court Coordinator will assist in tapping into other funding sources, if required.

How many treatment sessions will I have to attend?

Essentially, Menergy provides up to 13 sessions (3 one-on-one’s and 10 groups), but special circumstances may dictate a different setup. The Men’s Resource Center counseling series contains 11 sessions (3 one-on-one’s and 8 groups). Drug & Alcohol and Mental Health settings vary depending on level of care, or the severity of a particular situation.

I’m not living in Philadelphia County at the moment. Where should I go that’s easier for me?

If you live outside of Philadelphia County, and traveling to any of the city facilities becomes a major hurdle, the Court may identify a facility near you. This facility must be compatible with the ones generally used in Philadelphia. The facility must also understand that the reporting of your treatment progress for court purposes, in a timely fashion, is of utmost importance, and must proceed accordingly.

What if I work/go to school, and don’t have time to go to treatment?

The Court understands your need to work and/or to attend school and will do its utmost not to interfere with this schedule. However, you must work with your employer and/or school to find a satisfactory solution to accommodate treatment and Court dates. Once you accept participation in the DV program, the Court expects full compliance.

What happens if I don’t comply with treatment/counseling as the Court ordered?

The Court will do its utmost to assist you in overcoming any challenges while attempting to comply with stipulations. Nevertheless, compliance is expected and non-compliance may put you in danger of being sanctioned. Ultimately, your participation may be revoked, and the case will be relisted for trial.

I missed my Court date. What do I do now?

If you miss, or know that you will miss a court date, contact your attorney or Case Manager immediately for further instructions. Except for medical emergencies, skipping a court date is NEVER recommended, but if you do, remember the following:

If Defender Association of Philadelphia is your legal representative, contact their offices. If a Private/Court Appointed Attorney represents you, he/she MUST be present in Court, or a Bench Warrant may/will be issued against you. If you do not have legal representation, and you fail to appear in Court, a Bench Warrant will be issued against you.

I am a sick person and cannot attend treatment due to my illness.

If you are in such physical/medical/mental condition that prevents you from attending or mentally concentrating in the intended purpose of the required counseling, and want the Court to take this into consideration, you MUST provide the Court with documentation from your primary doctor or psychiatrist. The Court will determine the extent to which you can participate and make appropriate recommendations. Until then, you are expected to comply with Court stipulations as instructed.

After successfully completing the program, how do I get this case off my record (expunged)?

Withdrawing a case and expungement are two different steps. Once prosecution is withdrawn, you must follow up with the expungement process. The Court will not automatically expunge a case. Wait a full year before returning to your legal representative to start the process.

IMPORTANT: If you are represented by Defender Association, keep in mind that this agency handles a large amount of cases for expungement on a regular basis. Therefore, the actual length of time to conclude the process varies.