I regularly receive calls from people who are new to the justice system, having never been charged with a crime before. More often than not, people who do not have a criminal record want to know about a program called ARD. They have heard of the program, but are unfamiliar with its requirements and benefits.
The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, or ARD, is a program in Pennsylvania for first time offenders. If you’ve previously been convicted of a summary offense, or you were convicted of a crime a very long time ago, you may be eligible for ARD; however, it is intended for people with no record. The program is run slightly differently in each county, but in general the local District Attorney will decide, after reviewing an application, whether or not you are eligible for ARD.
In the counties where I practice most often, Lehigh and Northampton Counties, the first step to gaining admission into ARD is waiving your Preliminary Hearing. In these counties, waiver is required, though that is not necessarily the case in every county. Once you waive your Preliminary Hearing, you will need to complete certain requirements at different times throughout the process of ARD. The requirements and timeline will differ depending on which county you are in.
In general, you must first apply for ARD. If you are charged with DUI, your drivers license will be suspended for up to 60 days (90 days if you’re a minor). The suspension time is based on your Blood Alcohol Content. You will also be required to attend a Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation, possibly a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation, and complete a highway traffic safety course. For both DUI and non-DUI ARD, you may be required to perform community service as well. There are no fines, but you will need to pay a fee for the program. This fee usually runs around $1,500.00-$2,000.00.
Depending on the county and the charge, you will usually be on ARD for 6-12 months. During that time, you are under informal supervision of Probation. You must follow the rules of the program, complete all the requirements, and avoid any further arrests. If you successfully do this, then at the conclusion of your time on ARD you will be eligible to have the charges expunged off your criminal record.
While ARD is often a very straightforward process, it is vital that you have an attorney represent. There is certain paperwork that must be submitted and a process that must be followed, and failure to do things correctly could jeopardize your chances at admission. Also, there may be circumstances in your case that could make acceptance into the ARD program much more difficult and an attorney will know how to navigate the system.
If you’ve been charged with a crime, contact The Fliszar Firm today for a free consultation.