ARD in Pennsylvania Criminal Cases

What is ARD?

ARD stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. It is a program for first offenders in non-violent crimes. The unique feature of ARD is that no guilty plea or conviction is required: a person enters into the program before trial, and if the program is completed, they will earn a dismissal of the charges.

ARD is most often used in Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases, but it can be used for other misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are less serious offenses than felonies. For example, theft is often a misdemeanor, but it can become a felony when the amount involved is more than $2,000.00, a motor vehicle is stolen, etc.

Who qualifies for ARD?

Eligibility for the ARD program is determined by the District Attorney’s Office, and the criteria vary from county to county.

In general, you must have no prior criminal history. If you had previously been in an ARD program, it must have been more than 10 years ago

In DUI cases, no serious injuries can occur to anyone other than the Defendant, and no passengers under the age of 14 were in the car.

How do I apply for ARD?

Each county has its own procedures. In Blair County, an application must be filed at or before the pre-trial conference. You must agree to waive your speedy trial rights, both for the time before acceptance into the program, and the time you spend in the program.

If the District Attorney’s Office recommends you for ARD, your case will be scheduled for a hearing before a Common Pleas Court Judge, who will formally admit you into the program.

Do I Need an Attorney to apply for ARD?

Although it is not required that you be represented by a lawyer, most criminal Defendants want to have the advice and assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Any criminal charge is a serious matter, which could involve a jail sentence and other consequences.

What Are the Requirements of ARD?

ARD requires that you be placed on probation for a period of up to two years. You will be required to perform community service. The length of probation, and the number of hours to be completed varies from case to case. In DUI cases, you will attend an educational program, and be evaluated for a Drug or Alcohol problem. If treatment is deemed necessary, you may be required to receive treatment. Your driver’s license will be suspended for a period of time, depending on your blood alcohol level.

While you are on probation, you will have to report regularly to your probation officer, keep them informed of any change in your address or employment, and comply with any special conditions.

The cost of the program varies in each county. You will have to pay court costs, a monthly supervisory fee of $25.00, and certain program fees.

What happens if I Fail to comply with the program?

If you fail to comply with any of the conditions, a Petition to Revoke ARD can be filed, and a Judge could remove you from the program. If that happens, the original charges will be reinstated. This could happen because a person was charged with a new crime, or failed to attend the required classes, or did not perform community service.

If ARD is revoked, the Defendant is placed in the same position as he or she was before entering into the program – they would then need to either go to trial, or plead guilty, and if you are convicted, you will be sentenced on the original charges.

What Happens After I Complete the Program?

After completion of the program, your Attorney will be able to file a motion to dismiss the charge, and your arrest record will be expunged. This means that you can truthfully say that you have never been convicted of a crime.

Should I apply for ARD?

ARD is not for everyone. There are some costs involved, and accepting ARD means giving up your right to a trial. For many people, however, ARD is the best way out of a bad situation: it avoids the risk of a criminal conviction and any possibility of a jail sentence.

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