What is section 17?

I got arrest in Philly for possession. I heard about this thing called section 17. What is it, how does it work, how do I apply?

My answer is for Philadelphia county only. When you show up for court, your lawyer can ask for section 17 if there is no better offer. If the best offer is section 17 and you want it, you then enter a no contest please before the judge. The judge will accept the no contest plea under section 17 and put you on probation without a verdict. If you complete the period of probation with no problems at all, you will be found not guilty at the end of the term of probation and you can even have the record of the arrest expunged. However, if you make a mistake or screw up the probation, the judge will find you guilty and you will have a criminal record. There is nothing special about the program, you don’t apply, there is no assessment or test. It is simply an alternative disposition that gives you a chance to wind up with no record if your lawyer can get it for you and you don’t screw it up.

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