Many people in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and other communities in Northeast Pennsylvania know someone who has gone through the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program to resolve a DUI, drug charge, or another type of offense. At Kalinoski Law Offices P.C. in Scranton, we have earned a reputation for our aggressive advocacy in the trial court. We explore all available options, including the diversion program known as ARD for people accused of a first-time criminal offense.
Understanding The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program
The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program is a diversion program available for many first-time offenders. That is to say that the program offers individuals charged with a non-violent crime an opportunity to get a second chance.
The Commonwealth suspends the applicant’s criminal records upon accepting them into the ARD program. The program then requires that the person go through probation supervision. For many, counseling is attending alcohol or drug abuse classes or an anger management course. The ARD program also includes restitution, community service, and other conditions during the period of probation.
If someone successfully completes the terms and conditions of the program, the prosecutor will dismiss the charges. In general, successful completion of ARD will allow you to keep your criminal record clean.
After a record expungement, you are allowed to say ‘no’ when asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime. However, the District Attorney does not destroy its records. The program does not prohibit the prosecutor from enhancing a future charge based upon this prior offense, or a court from enhancing a sentence based upon the prior offense. For instance, resolving a DUI charge through the ARD program does not stop a new offense from being treated as a repeat DUI offense.
What Are The Eligibility Requirements Of ARD?
First, understand that the District Attorney has the ability to approve or disapprove of an individual’s admission into the ARD program. There is no automatic path to inclusion. Anyone charged with a crime must apply to the District Attorney’s office for the program first.
Second, on top of that, each county has its own local rules for who can join their ARD program. Eligibility is based on a variety of factors; having a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in your corner can make a significant difference.
Generally, the court will review if:
- This is your first offense.
- There was not a serious injury or death during the offense.
- It was a non-violent offense.
The ARD Process
The first step to the ARD process is to submit a written application to the District Attorney’s office. The applicant must do this within 30 days of the preliminary hearing. In general, the individual applying for ARD admission waives their right to a preliminary hearing and formal arraignment to receive ARD.
Upon handing in the application, the victim and police will have the opportunity to comment on the application. Their input helps the DA determine if they will admit the applicant into the ARD program. If the application is approved, the applicant enters probation.
During probation, the applicant must pay the cost of fines to complete community service as well as attend any mandated counseling. Upon completion of the program, the record may be expunged.
Call Us For Focused Guidance And A Strong Criminal Defense: ARD Program
We advocate aggressively and explore every option to obtain the most favorable outcome possible. As a trial lawyer, Craig P. Kalinoski fights to protect the rights of each client. However, the ARD program can be a beneficial tool in resolving a criminal charge. To learn more about your legal options, we invite you to call 570-207-4000 or contact us online to request a free initial consultation to discuss your future.