What Happens at ARD Court in Philadelphia?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Oct 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

First-time offenders in Philadelphia, whether professionals, college students, or anyone else who makes a mistake can often benefit by resolving their criminal charges through Philadelphia's Accelerated Rehabilitaitve Dispersion program, also known as "ARD".  Because facing criminal charges and navigating to rough waters of Philadelphia's criminal justice system can be difficult for anyone, understanding what happens if a defendant is allowed to resolved his or her case through ARD in Philadelphia will help ease the burden of the path forward for the person charged and his or her family.

Where does ARD Court take place in Philadelphia?

Philadelphia ARD Court is held in courtroom 803 of the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center, also known as the "CJC".  The Criminal Justice Center is located at 1301 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107.  ARD Court is generally held on Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 AM or 12 PM.  In Philadelphia DUI cases (DDPIPP), an additional "staging" day takes place on Mondays at 1:30 PM.

What happens in DUI ARD cases in Philadelphia?

If a defendant in Philadelphia is scheduled for a DUI staging date, the defendant's attorney should appear with the client in courtroom 803.  Private attorneys are called first to have their cases addressed by the court.  An effective attorney will find the client's "number" (listed next to the client's name on the "run sheet") and will inform the court officer of the case number.  The defendant will receive information regarding the Philadelphia ARD program, applicable fines and costs, alcohol safe driving school, and what the "CRN"  evaluation is (Court Reporting Network) and how it relates to the DUI case.  The date for the CRN evaluation will also be given to the defendant at that time.  The defendant will also have to sign a "600 waiver" which is a waiver of the right to a speedy trial (in light of the DUI case being resolved through Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition).

On the DUI staging date, the defendant will receive another court date for ARD disposition.  If the defendant has been rejected from the program after a further review by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, or elects to go to trial, a DUI trial date will be given at that time.

What will take place on the day of my ARD hearing in Philadelphia?

On the day of ARD court (for both DUI and non-DUI cases in Philadelphia), a defendant should report to courtroom 803.  As with the DUI staging date, the defendant's attorney should find the client's case number and inform the court staff.  Defendants' case will be called by the order which private attorneys check in with the court.

The defendant's attorney should: speak with the assistant district attorney (or the representative from the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office); obtain the CRN evaluation and review it with the client; and receive the recommendation of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office for the ARD conditions / sentence.

All of the parties will sit at the counsel table in the courtroom.  The defendant's attorney will sit across from the judge, and the defendant will be to the attorney's left, across from the assistant district attorney (or the representative from the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office).  The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, known as the "Commonwealth" in such court proceedings, will read its recommendation to the court. 

How will a DUI ARD case generally be resolved in Philadelphia?

In Philadelphia DUI cases, the ARD recommendations will generally always include probation, alcohol safe driving school, a drug and alcohol evaluation, drug and alcohol treatment if deemed necessary, and a driver's license suspension when applicable (generally a suspension of either one month or two months when a driver's license suspension is invoked because of the defendant's blood alcohol content, or if there is a refusal to submit to a Breathalyzer or blood test).  Fines and costs, reduced compared to if the defendant pleaded guilty or was convicted of a DUI charge at trial, as well as a monthly probation supervision fee will be imposed.  (An effective attorney will be able to get the judge to waive the probation supervision fee when there is a reasonable basis for such a request; for example, if the defendant is a student, disabled, underemployed, or unemployed.)

It should be noted that defendants facing driving under the influence charges in Philadelphia and who request to resolve their cases through Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, alcohol safe driving school, a drug and alcohol evaluation, and the mandated driver's license suspension (when applicable) are not negotiable.  The duration and reporting or non-reporting nature of probation may be negotiable however, in addition to the waiver of the probation supervision fees as noted above.  An effective attorney will speak with the client prior to proceeding to the ARD disposition to determine whether any of the above-referenced exceptions apply; if so, the attorney should make the necessary request to the judge to waive the probation supervision fees and should have documentation to support such a request when applicable.

Will I have to surrender my driver's license on the day of my ARD hearing in Philadelphia?

Unlike other Pennsylvania counties, Philadelphia does not collect a defendant's driver's license on the day of the ARD hearing.  Philadelphia does, however, permit PennDOT to determine when a defendant's driving privileges will be suspended.  If a defendant drives for a living and if there will be a suspension of driving privileges either for one month or two months, the defendant's attorney can arrange with PennDOT for the suspension to encompass a certain period of time if that can help the defendant in any capacity.  For example, if the defendant drives for a living and can arrange to take vacation days for part or even all of the suspension period, the defendant's attorney can present to the judge an Order for PennDOT to suspend the driving privileges during those specified dates.  An Order should be ready for the judge's signature at the ARD hearing.

Will my New Jersey driving privileges be suspended if I get a DUI in Philadelphia?

New Jersey drivers who get a DUI in Philadelphia may be thankful that, in many instances, New Jersey will not suspend their driving privileges in New Jersey.  A New Jersey driver who resolves his or her case through ARD in Philadelphia will generally not be allowed to drive in Pennsylvania only during the required period of suspension.

What happens after I enter the ARD program in Philadelphia?

After speaking with the judge, the defendant and his or her attorney will be asked to wait in the hallway of the Criminal Justice Center to speak with a probation officer from the Philadelphia Probation Department.  The ARD Office of the Philadelphia Probation Department is located on the 8th floor of the Criminal Justice Center (near the women's public restroom).  A defendant will have to provide personal information to the Philadelphia Probation Department and will receive the name of his or her probation officer and a date to report (either in person or by phone).

A defendant may have to be prepared to make a payment towards his or her fines and costs on the date of the ARD hearing.  Although a defendant will be given several months to complete the payments, if they are not paid in full in the required time, another hearing will be scheduled and the defendant will risk being removed from the ARD program (which, in most instances, would then require the defendant's case to be scheduled for trial). 

If payment is required on the day of the ARD hearing in Philadelphia, a defendant should go to the basement of the Criminal Justice Center to make the necessary payment towards the fines and costs.  A receipt will be provided, and the defendant should provide the Philadelphia Probation Department with a copy of the receipt.  A defendant should keep all receipts towards payments in case any payment discrepancies arise. 

A defendant should also be prepared to schedule his or her alcohol safe driving school classes and pay the costs associated with the mandated program.

What happens after I complete ARD in Philadelphia?  Can I get my record expunged?

If a defendant complies with all of the terms and conditions of the Philadelphia ARD program, remains arrest-free, and does not drive while under a DUI suspension (Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code - 1543b), the defendant's case will be eligible for an expungement after the ARD is closed.

How does ARD Court work for non-DUI cases in Philadelphia?

In non-DUI cases in Philadelphia, only one ARD court date will be scheduled at which time a defendant will be accepted into the ARD program, provided with information regarding fines and costs (and restitution in cases involved restitution), given probation, and will register with the Philadelphia Probation Department.

Philadelphia ARD Attorney | Pennsylvania ARD Attorney

Having to face criminal charges will be burdensome for people from all walks of life, but for first-time offenders, especially those whose employment, education, or professional licenses (such as a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist for example) may be on the line, the benefits of a "diversion program" can be profound.  Such a favorable resolution will often come in the form of Philadelphia's ARD program. 

Despite the many benefits of resolving a criminal case through ARD, it can nonetheless be an intimidating process.  Understanding what happens at ARD Court in Philadelphia for both DUI and non-DUI charges will help make a difficult time more bearable.  contact skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento today for help navigating the ARD process.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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