For first-time offenders, the ARD program is one of the only methods of avoiding a criminal record and legal penalties in the state of Pennsylvania. If you have been charged with a crime for the first time, ARD may be the best option for you.
For the purposes of this article, we will address (1) what this program embodies, (2) the requirements that you will have to fulfill when in the program and (3) how an attorney will help you get accepted.
What is ARD?
ARD, short for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, is a diversionary pre-trial intervention program offered for first-time criminal offenders. But in rare circumstances, it may be accessible to people with limited run-ins with law enforcement. ARD gives individuals the option of avoiding stiff penalties like jail time, the loss of driving privileges and the creation of a criminal record by completing the terms of the program. The program routinely accepts individuals convicted of nonviolent minor offenses -DUI convictions, drug possession etc. Once an alleged perpetrator has been granted acceptance, his or her case is usually put on hold for a year, so that the courts may impose specific requirements that must be fulfilled. If the requirements are completed by the end of the ARD period, the courts will dismiss a person's case and expunge the arrest and criminal charges from their criminal record. This means that during background checks, the case will not come up or be seen by employers, law enforcement and anyone else with access to criminal public records.
Pennsylvania's Requirements for ARD Program
ARD suspends an individual's case in hopes that they will complete specific requirements in a given duration of time. The program intends to make alleged perpetrators work for a dismissed case by piling on the requirements that must be fulfilled. After a hearing solidifies a case will be placed in the ARD program, said person will immediately be placed on “supervision” - an informal probation. The program cannot outright call the supervision period probation, since people in this program have not been found guilty and convicted of a crime, however, it is much like a probationary period. A probation officer from a local office near you will be tasked with ensuring that you are doing the duties you've been assigned.
Although the requirements will vary based on the nature of a case, here are some general requirements that are imposed upon people in the ARD program:
- The completion drug and alcohol counseling
- A driver's license suspension (in cases involving DUI charges)
- The completion of community service
- Paid restitution
- The avoidance of run-ins with law enforcement while on supervision
- Waive the right to a speedy trial
- Take drug tests that prove there is no alcohol or drug use
- The completion of a driver's safety course (in cases involving DUI charges)
Getting Into an ARD Program
Since there is limited access to entry into the ARD program, you will fare better with the assistance of an attorney. Criteria for the program acceptance is not explicitly laid out by the law, however, attorneys are familiar with the type of cases that are commonly accepted. During a client consultation, an attorney will make an assessment of the eligibility of your case for ARD within the county you have been charged. Then, if it seems likely that your case will be accepted, an application will be thoroughly completed and sent to the District Attorney's office. In addition to the application, a legal professional will submit a cover letter expounding on your situation and why you deserve a spot in the ARD program.
Pennsylvania ARD Attorney
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you may be eligible for entry into the ARD program. Whether your criminal case is taking place in Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, Northampton County, it is critical to present the strongest case as to why you should be allowed to resolve your charges through ARD. With the help of Joseph D. Lento, the likelihood of being admitted will be maximized. Contact him today for help.