While most people think of ARD as being for DUI charges it can also be available for Retail Theft, Theft, minor Drug Possession, vandalism and other misdemeanor offenses.
ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition) is a program provided by the County which allows a defendant to avoid jail time and other penalties. It is usually meant for first time offenders who show a need, and desire, for treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment. In some Counties you cannot be admitted into an ARD Program unless you are represented by an attorney. If you are accepted into an ARD program you do not have to plead guilty to any charges.
ARD is not a “light” sentence nor are you guaranteed that the District Attorney will accept you into the ARD program. If accepted into the ARD Program you will have to perform community service, register with the probation office and follow through on everything that your probation officer requests from you. There are other strict rules that must be followed once you are accepted and failure to follow all the rules can get you removed from the program and back in Court facing possible jail time for the original offense.
Upon completion of an ARD program, including the payment of all fines and costs, all charges will be dismissed against you. You may still want to file a Motion for Expungement which will officially remove the charges from your record. The District Attorney’s Office will always have a record but it will not be public. ARD may be offered in conjunction with drug court for Driving Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance.
Most Counties now offer a Drug Court program, either by itself, or in some situations in conjunction with the ARD Program. Acceptance into Drug Court allows a defendant to avoid jail time. The Drug Court programs are very rigorous and you will have to see a probation officer for a period of time (up to 2 years). You will also be required to appear in Court in front of the Judge and you will have random drug testing. The length of time in the program depends on the charges against you as well as your behavior once you are accepted into the program.
If you fail to meet all of the requirements after you are accepted into Drug Court you can face trial on the original charges and you should not expect the Court to count the time that you spent in the program when you are sentenced.
Having a criminal record can seriously affect your work and life. A criminal record can prevent you from getting a job, a loan, a home or education. Pennsylvania offers criminal expungements in certain circumstances. When your record is expunged all records of your arrest except for one are erased. Certain law enforcement agencies will always be able to see that you were arrested.
In November 2016 Pennsylvania law went into effect that allows expungement for a much larger number of offenses than ever before. If you have a criminal past and are worried about your future contact a lawyer to understand your rights and possibility of having your record expunged.
If you are arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol it is imperative that you know the options available to you. While each County in Pennsylvania has its own rules ARD will be offered in all Counties to those defendants who qualify. If you are accepted into an ARD program for DUI you should expect to lose your license for a certain period of time, attend highway safety school, a self reporting drug session (CRN), pay court costs, pay fees for the ARD program, see a probation officer and be required to perform community service.
If you are not accepted into an ARD or ARD/Drug Court program you can be facing some very serious consequences including loss of license, jail time and heavy financial fines. You need an attorney that can defend you against these severe charges. Did the police have reasonable suspicion to pull you over? Were the devices used for testing calibrated correctly and was the person, or persons administering those tests properly certified? There is most likely a dash-cam recording of the incident and that video may have to be reviewed. Did the police follow the correct timing for the breath and blood testing? Were you given your Miranda Rights and when?
High school and college students are often arrested for underage drinking. Most likely this occurs at a party where the police have been called. This is usually a minor offense but having any criminal record can affect your ability to get into a school or obtain the job that you want. Underage drinking charges may make you eligible for your counties ARD program. However if they are not the attorney at The Law Offices of Lee M. Herman, Esquire can help you fight the charges. Did the police have the authority to enter the premises where you were located? Were you read you Miranda Rights?
If you were convicted of underage drinking when you were very young you may be facing a drivers license suspension that does not go into effect until you apply for your license. You may be able to avoid this by fighting the charges against you or pleading guilty to a lesser charge. If you are convicted of underage drinking as a young person you may be able to have your criminal record cleared when you turn 21.
For minor possession charges ARD programs may be available with some being as short a 30 days (for marijuana possession). If you are not accepted into an ARD program, or if you are facing more serious charges, you need an attorney that will defend you rights and challenge every aspect of the arrest, chain of custody and testing of the substance that you allegedly possessed.
For theft charges, especially if you have not been arrested before, you may be entitled to an ARD program. However each County looks differently at theft charges with Montgomery County being very hard on theft charges due to the amount of money generated by the King of Prussia Mall. If your case goes to trial you need an attorney who will challenge every aspect of the police and prosecutors conduct.