Who is Eligible for ARD in Pennsylvania?
Offenses involving drugs and controlled substances are common across Pennsylvania. Depending on your situation, you might be eligible to participate in certain diversion programs instead of facing a criminal sentence.
To be admitted to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, you typically must be a first-time offender. Additionally, eligible defendants should be facing nonviolent offenses that are drug or alcohol-related. Perhaps the most significant benefit of ARD is that participants may have their charges dismissed and will not have a conviction on their record. ARD programs are run at the county level, which means the specific eligibility criteria and procedures might vary from county to county. While we can help you apply to the program, the District Attorney and judge have a lot of discretion about who gets in. If your application is denied, we can ask that your application be reconsidered, or we can move forward with a different defense strategy.
If you are facing your very first criminal charges and your case involves drugs or alcohol, you might be a good candidate for ARD. Call our Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyers for a free case review. Call Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane at (215) 372-8667.
Eligibility Requirements for ARD Participants in Pennsylvania
To be eligible for the ARD program in Pennsylvania, a defendant must be a first-time offender. Defendants with extensive criminal backgrounds are unlikely to be admitted into the program. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you might still be permitted to enter the program even if you are not a first-time offender. However, your criminal record should be short and consist of nonviolent offenses. Ultimately, who is in the program comes down to the judge’s and prosecutor’s discretion.
Additionally, your charges must be for nonviolent offenses related to drugs or alcohol. Commonly accepted charges in ARD programs include simple drug possession or a first-time DUI charge. If your charges are for more serious offenses or involve violence, you might be barred from participating in the program.
There might be numerous other factors surrounding your case that are considered when you apply for ARD. For example, the court and prosecutor might consider the likelihood of the defendant re-offending or whether they show any remorse for their actions. Even if you are eligible, but prosecutors do not believe you will benefit from the program and are likely to re-offend, you could be denied. Contact our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers to discuss how to prepare your ARD application.
Benefits of ARD in Pennsylvania
ARD is a diversion program, which means that defendants participating in the program are diverted away from standard criminal justice procedures in the hopes that they can be rehabilitated. Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of the program, and the main reason why defendants want to participate, is that the criminal charges may be dismissed.
When a defendant enters the program, their case is put on hold for the duration of the program. If the defendant completes the program and abides by all requirements imposed by the court, their case may be dismissed, and there will be no conviction on their record. If you can complete ARD, you will walk away with a clean criminal record.
This is why the program tends to be geared towards first-time offenders. If first-time offenders complete the program, they will remain conviction-free and have a completely clean criminal record. Keep in mind that you may participate in ARD only once. If you are ever arrested and charged with a crime in the future, you cannot participate in ARD. Talk to our West Chester County criminal defense attorneys to discuss whether your case is a good fit for ARD.
Who Runs Pennsylvania’s ARD Programs?
ARD programs are not run at the state level. Instead, each county in Pennsylvania is responsible for running and maintaining its own ARD program. Depending on your county, there may be some variations in how these programs work. Discussing your case and the possibility of entering an ARD program with our Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys is important.
Things like eligibility requirements, program rules, and how strictly the rules are enforced might change by county. For example, in one county, the rules might be very strict, and anyone with even a single criminal conviction will be excluded from the program. Other counties might be more forgiving and still permit a defendant to enter the program even if they have a prior conviction for something relatively minor and nonviolent.
How to Get Into Pennsylvania ARD Programs
Getting into an ARD program is not the easiest process, and you might need assistance from an experienced lawyer. Your first step should be to discuss your case with our Lower Merion criminal defense lawyers. Once we have enough information, we can submit an application to the District Attorney’s office for the ARD program. Your application is specific to your county, so it is important to ensure that application materials are sent to the correct location.
The prosecutors on your case will review your application and decide whether you are a good fit for the ARD program. Remember, meeting your county’s eligibility criteria does not guarantee admission into the ARD program. There might be numerous reasons a prosecutor might deny an application. If the prosecutor believes you are a good fit for the program, they will file a motion with the judge in your case recommending you to the program.
The District Attorney on your case is the main decision-maker regarding whether you will be admitted into the ARD program. However, the judge has the authority to deny you even if the DA recommends you to the program. In such an instance, a hearing might be held about whether you are a good fit for the ARD program. An attorney can help you plead your case to a judge, if necessary, but judges more often than not trust the judgment of the DA and will likely admit or deny you based on the DA’s recommendation.
Call Our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers for Help
If you are a first-time offender facing nonviolent charges for drug or alcohol-related offenses, our Allentown criminal defense lawyers can help you apply to an ARD program. For a free case review, call Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane at (215) 372-8667.