Pennsylvania ARD Program Lawyers
If you have no prior criminal record, or a limited criminal history, you may be eligible for the Pennsylvania Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD). ARD is a pre-trial intervention program for individuals who qualify. Your eligibility for the program is determined by the District Attorney. If approved, it can enable you to minimize or reduce the penalties for these charges, and, in most cases, it will result in the criminal charges being wiped from your record altogether.
How Do I Get into the ARD Program?
We will complete and submit all of the information and documentation required for entry into the ARD program. In more difficult cases, we can also speak with the District Attorney and explain your personal circumstances to assist with your acceptance into the ARD program. It is important to recognize that Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon Counties all have different requirements for entry into their ARD programs. We are familiar with the requirements of each county and have successfully enrolled many client’s into the ARD program in each county.
Am I Eligible for the Pennsylvania ARD Program?
ARD is broken down into two types of charges: DUI and Non-DUI offenses. Eligibility for each of these programs varies by county and offense, as do the requirements for completion of the program. Further, it is up to the District Attorney of each county to determine eligibility. We are familiar with the specific eligibility requirements for Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon counties, and we will work with you to make sure that you take all the necessary steps to be accepted and successfully complete the program.
However, there are certain situations in which a person will be statutorily ineligible for the ARD program. For example, the following situations will automatically disqualify you from participating in any county’s DUI-ARD program:
- If you are applying for DUI-ARD, having a DUI conviction within the previous ten (10) yearswill often render you ineligible for the ARD program..
- If the current DUI charges involve an accident that seriously injured or killed someone else.
- Having a passenger under 14 years of age in the motor vehicle you were driving when charged with DUI.
For Non-DUI ARD applications, it varies by the rules of each county. However, generally speaking the more serious the offense, the less likely it will be that you will qualify for ARD. Likewise, even if your current offense is not a serious offense, but you have a prior record containing serious criminal convictions, then you will most likely not be approved for ARD.
Our firm is experienced at handling individuals with difficult cases. An experienced attorney can help you determine if you are eligible for ARD and whether it is the best option for your situation.
What Happens to the Charges Against Me If I Participate in ARD?
You don’t have to admit to any wrongdoing or plead guilty to be accepted into ARD. However, some counties may require that you enter a guilty plea to any summary offenses that may have been charged in connection with your case. You will also be required to pay any fines and costs associated with your participation in the ARD program. The amounts of these fines and costs vary by county.
If you successfully complete ARD, the District Attorney will dismiss the charges against you. In most cases, your charges will be expunged, or wiped away, from your criminal record. They will not appear on a background check or affect your credit. In some counties the expungement is done automatically along you’re your successful completion of ARD. In other counties, expungement is a separate filing that is required in order to make sure your record is wiped clean. Either way, we can help you
If you do not comply with the program’s conditions, you will be removed from ARD, and your case will be placed back on the court docket. Examples of grounds for removal include:
- Commission of another criminal offense.
- Failure to make required restitution.
- Failure to complete any program mandated as a condition of ARD.
- Violation of the terms and conditions of ARD in any other way.
If you are removed from ARD, the District Attorney will proceed with prosecuting the case on the original charges. However, our attorneys can help you avoid violating your ARD terms, and, in some cases, we can work out an alternative arrangement to removal.
How Long Is an ARD Program?
If the District Attorney’s office allows you to enter the ARD program, the court will schedule a hearing to certify your acceptance and assign you an ARD probation officer.
The length of the ARD program can vary based on the nature of the crime, but generally will last anywhere from at least 6 months to a max of 2 years. For most DUI-related ARD supervision, the program lasts for one year, however, this also may vary depending on the type of DUI offense charged as well as other factors. Some counties will allow you to complete ARD early if you complete the requirements and pay all outstanding fines and costs. Our attorneys can work with you to explain exactly what you need to do to qualify for early termination.
Should I Apply to Participate in an ARD Program for my DUI Charges?
Just because you meet the eligibility requirements for the ARD program in your county does not mean you should automatically seek ARD. You and your lawyer should consider several factors when determining whether to seek admission into an ARD program. Some of those factors include:
(1) the strength of the Commonwealth’s case against you.
(2) the strength of your potential defense.
(3) the circumstances of your alleged DUI violation and arrest, including any procedural violations or police wrongdoing.
(4) the importance to you of avoiding jail.
(5) any prior record.
(6) your personal circumstances and situation.
Whether to seek admission into an ARD program is ultimately your decision. You should not make this decision until you have consulted with an attorney and discussed all available options and consequences.
Navigating the ARD Program in Pennsylvania
Our ARD attorneys have helped numerous clients successfully navigate the ARD process from start to finish. Each county has its own procedures, requirements, and applications for the ARD program. We are familiar with ARD process in Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon counties and can help you decide what steps will be best for you given your specific situation.
In some counties, ARD can be an option for summary offenses as well as indictable offenses. Even if you only face summary offense charges, you should consult with an attorney to learn all your options. Avoiding a conviction is almost always the best outcome for your case.
Contact an ARD Program Attorney
Retaining experienced legal counsel is a smart move when facing any criminal charge, drug charge, or DUI charge in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Our lawyers may be able to help you get into the ARD program or negotiate lesser penalties for your offense. Please contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation.