If you were arrested and considering your next steps, you may find yourself asking: “What is Pennsylvania’s ARD program?” The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program allows some nonviolent, first-time offenders to avoid going to trial and clear their records later.
According to the Pennsylvania Office of Victim Services, this program aims to help some first-time offenders get a clean slate after completing the requirements of a court-monitored rehabilitative program. This program is often used for drunk driving, minor drug possession, and similar charges, but a skilled advocate can argue that you deserve the program even if the charges are more serious.
What Is the Purpose of the ARD Program?
Authorized by the Pennsylvania General Assembly under 75 PA C.S. § 3807, ARD offers an opportunity for certain offenders to enter into a rehabilitative program and clear their record. The ARD program is pretrial, so some people may opt to participate because they can get started quickly instead of waiting on the courts.
In general, ARD consists of monitored probation, completing a number of requirements (including community service), and following strict rules about behavior and reporting.
After completing probation and all other requirements, the participant can file to have their record expunged. For many, this is the most attractive part of the program. ARD allows them to erase that the arrest ever occurred.
How does ARD Work? Do I Qualify?
Most ARD program participants do not have any previous arrests, although some may have a record from years prior for an unrelated crime.
Acceptance into ARD effectively pauses the case against you. It will remain paused until you complete the program and the charges are dropped. If you do not complete the program, then prosecutors will move forward with building a case and taking you to court.
In addition to meeting all requirements of probation, completing community service hours, and submitting to random drug and alcohol testing, there may be a long list of other requirements you must meet to complete the ARD program.
Yet, each of these things can benefit your life as a whole—not just for the purposes of the ARD program. For instance, if you complete ARD, you may have an easier time:
- Applying for jobs
- Renting apartments
- Maintaining an occupational license
- Passing background checks for other reasons
For a free legal consultation, call 215.515.3360
What Are the Preliminary Requirements for Pennsylvania’s ARD Program?
There are a few requirements you must meet to apply for ARD in Pennsylvania. This includes:
- A clear criminal record: Most people approved for ARD do not have an arrest history. Alternatively, they may have been arrested years prior, but they will not have a significant, recent criminal history.
- Face eligible charges: All participants approved for the ARD program face nonviolent, relatively minor charges. This is often drunk driving (that doesn’t result in accidents or injuries), underage alcohol possession, or minor drug charges. However, a skilled advocate can argue that you deserve the program even if the charges are more serious
- Consider legal aid: Pennsylvania strongly recommends hiring a lawyer if you want to proceed with the ARD program. Having a lawyer could make it easier to complete the application and provide supporting documents as necessary. A skilled lawyer could also fight for you to get into the program if you have an exceptional background or facts of your case.
- You are not pleading guilty: ARD participants do not enter a plea unless they fail to complete the program. If they complete the program successfully, the charges are dismissed and they are automatically expunged. They can sometimes have other consequences, so discuss those with your lawyer.
How an Attorney Can Help You with Your ARD Application
When you apply for the ARD program, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be accepted. Those overseeing the county ARD program near you will assess each application based on its own merits.
Not only will they review your application, but they may also talk to victims, the arresting officer, and other key players. They will learn as much as possible about the situation, including what led to your arrest, your criminal history (if any), and the details provided about you and your life.
If they believe you are a good candidate, you may receive approval for the ARD program. What is submitted with your application and the information gathered from you and your attorney could play a key role. Your attorney will handle this process for you and fight to help you gain approval for ARD.
Speak to a Team Member to Learn More About ARD in Pennsylvania Today
The ARD program may be a good option for you if you face charges—especially for impaired driving—in Pennsylvania. You can get a free consultation from the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC.
We can explain ARD and assess your other options based on the circumstances of your arrest. There is no obligation to partner with us when you call.