Section 17 Law – A 101 on Section 17

If you have been arrested in the state of Pennsylvania on drug charges and you are a first time offender, you may be eligible for Section 17 probation, also known as Probation Without Verdict. The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act provides a program that allows qualifying first-time offenders of nonviolent drug possession offenses the opportunity to have their charges legally dismissed provided that they comply with certain requirements. Erik B. Jensen, Attorneys at Law is an experienced criminal defense practice that has extensive experience and success in getting our eligible clients accepted into the Section 17 program. Contact us today for more information on how the program works, whether you qualify, and how we can help.


The Section 17 program is specifically designed to offer those who have a drug problem and who have no prior drug offense convictions, misdemeanors or felonies on their record.  In order to gain acceptance into the probation without verdict program, the accused needs to plead nolo contendere, or guilty, to the nonviolent offense of which they have been accused and to provide evidence proving that they are drug dependent. This evidence must specifically be in the form of testimony by a psychologist trained in the field of drug abuse or a physician.


There are a number of conditions that disqualify a person from being provided Section 17 probation. These include:


  • Having been previously convicted of an offense under this act or similar act
  • Having been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony
  • Having been placed on Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition after having been charged with a violation of the act or misdemeanor or felony previously
  • Having been charged with or pled guilty or nolo contender to multiple offenses on previous and separate occasions
  • Having been classified as a dangerous juvenile offender or having been adjudicated delinquent for certain conduct


If you are granted Section 17 probation without verdict, the term of your probation will be for a specific time period that is equal to or less then the maximum for the offense that they pled guilty or nolo contendere to. Once your probation has been fulfilled without any violations, your attorney will petition the court to have your criminal record expunged and all proceedings and charges against you will be dismissed without adjudication of guilt. There will be no conviction on your record, and future convictions will not be treated as second or subsequent convictions. All records related to the original offense will be completely destroyed, including arrest records criminal dockets, photographs, and fingerprints.


The Section 17 probation option is only available once, and provides a valuable opportunity, but it is important that the attorney that represents you is experienced and knowledgeable to ensure that expungement is done correctly.  At Erik B. Jensen Attorneys at Law we will work hard to keep your probation period as limited as possible, and make sure that you have all of the documentation that you need to prove your completion of Section 17 probation in the future.


Learn more about Section 17 Law here –