The Delaware County Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) program offers a way for defendants facing certain charges to avoid a criminal record by serving a period of probation and following special terms. And with the help of an attorney, defendants who qualify will be approved, succeed, and won't have to worry about their criminal record haunting them in the future.
For the purposes of this article, we will explore (1) what the ARD program entails, (2) the requirements necessary for being approved in this program, and (3) the essential role an attorney plays in getting you accepted. For more questions about your eligibility, contact criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento today.
What is the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program?
ARD is a diversionary pre-trial intervention program that is exclusively accessible to first-time, non-violent criminal offenders. In some situations, it may be available for defendants with minor crimes and a limited criminal history. A unique aspect of ARD is that it's focused on rehabilitation and diversion from crime, rather than punishment. It is intended to remedy the core issue of why defendants commit certain crimes and effectively curbing the trend of recidivism. If completed, this program will give members the opportunity to avoid a conviction, the creation of a criminal record, and harsh legal penalties. Ultimately, success in this program is defined by if the terms assigned to a member are completed.
While the nature of the Delaware County ARD program proves to be best suited towards defendants who've been charged with driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, program coordinators have seen significant progress for other defendants too. Those with drug possession charges, with sale and trafficking charges, and theft charges, for example, thrive in ARD also.
How does this program work in Delaware County?
First, a defendant who has been approved will be required to attend a hearing. Following this hearing, a defendant, who is now officially a member of the Delaware County ARD program, will be put on “supervision.” Supervision closely resembles probation in many aspects. Members will be assigned a supervisor - much like a probation officer - who is tasked with ensuring that program guidelines are followed. They will also make sure members are on track with completing your conditions in a timely manner.
The original charges will be put on hold for a duration of a year. The court has decided that this period is enough time for members to fulfill all of their requirements. The conditions assigned to each member will vary based on the circumstances of their respective cases. one member may have to complete a drug program, for example, while another may have to attend driver's courses. Here are some general requirements imposed upon an average member in the ARD program:
- Paid restitution
- A driver's license suspension
- The avoidance of new charges while on supervision
- The completion of driver's safety courses
- The completion of evaluations requested by the court
- Random drug tests
- The completion of community service hours
- Report to the Office of Adult Probation regularly
- The completion of drug and/or alcohol counseling
Entry Into the ARD Program
Each county in the Commonwealth has its own specific version of the ARD program, and as a result, have different qualifications for entry. The Delaware County ARD program
- The presence of a minor child (under the age of 14 years old) as a passenger during a DUI arrest
- Pending charges for assault, harassment, or the involvement of deadly weapons
- Prior participation in the Delaware County ARD program
- Prior criminal or DUI convictions
- A case involving injuries
- Previous accusations of domestic violence, any type of sex crime, stalking, or witness intimidation
It's important to note that this program considers feedback from your peers, family, and potential victims of a crime when debating whether or not to grant you acceptance. Only with the help of an attorney can you identify potential barriers that could diminish your chances of being approved. In fact, the assistance of an attorney is required for entry in Delaware County. It is the duty of a legal professional to convince your arresting officer, prosecutor, and the judge that the ARD program will be effective in your situation.
The cumulative amount of costs for participating in this program depends on circumstantial factors. A defendant could be ordered to pay court costs, restitution, supervision fees, and any other additional charges that the District Attorney may find necessary. Acceptance into Delaware County's ARD program will require members to submit a portion of these costs to the Clerk of Court for collateral. The program will then be responsible for putting defendants on a reasonable payment plan.
The benefits of being a member of this program are amazing. Aside from not being convicted, members will get the duration of their license suspension shortened (if applicable), the jail penalty will be removed, and they will be granted immediate eligibility for expungement. From this point on, members will not have to worry about disclosing this incident to any company, professional licensure, school residency etc. that asks about criminal history.
Delaware County ARD Attorney
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in Delaware County, you may be eligible for entry into the county's ARD program. Consult with the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Lento Law Firm for more information about how you can get approved. Contact us today online or by phone at (215) 535-5355.