In Pennsylvania, individuals who have been charged with a non-violent criminal offense for the 1st time may be eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. Individuals who successfully complete the ARD program in 2019 can avoid jail time and the other penalties associated with a criminal conviction.
The ARD program is intended to divert 1st time non-violent offenders from the criminal justice system and provide participants in the program the chance to avoid having a criminal record. If the district attorney approves your acceptance into the ARD program, your criminal charges will be suspended or put on hold during a period of probation. During the probationary period, you must follow strict court-ordered conditions, including some or all of the following:
- Drug and alcohol screening (DUI)
- Drug and alcohol treatment if recommended (DUI)
- Completion of alcohol highway safety school (DUI)
- Complete community service
- Remain arrest free
- Pay restitution
- Pay court costs
- Complete a specific period of probationary supervision
Bucks County PA ARD
The Bucks County ARD Program is administered through a designated Bucks County Assistant District Attorney. Individuals seeking admission into the Bucks County ARD Program must fill out and submit a 1-page written ARD application at the magisterial district court where the applicant’s preliminary hearing is scheduled. Additionally, the applicant must waive their right to a preliminary hearing to be eligible for the program.
Bucks County ARD Application
The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office will typically make a decision on the ARD application within 4 to 6 weeks of the preliminary hearing. An ARD admission letter is sent to the applicant notifying him or her of their acceptance into the program and the ARD court date. Individuals who are denied acceptance into the ARD program may file a written reconsideration of the denial decision with the district attorney’s office. Individuals accepted into the ARD program are expected to complete a minimum of 10 hours of community service during the length of the ARD program and pay approximately 70% of the ARD courts costs prior to the ARD court date. Proof of completion of community service must be submitted to the Bucks County Adult Probation and Parole Department before the ARD term expires.
The typical length of the ARD program is 12 months but can be shortened to 6 months in certain cases (DUI) if all ARD conditions, including full payment of court costs are completed prior to the ARD court hearing. The application process and court deadlines for the ARD program can be confusing and complex for the average person. Therefore, it is critical to hire an experienced Bucks County ARD attorney if you want the best chance of being approved for this first-time offender program.
ARD Montgomery County PA
The Montgomery County ARD Program is supervised by a designated Assistant District Attorney in the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. Individuals who want to be placed in the ARD program must submit an 8-page written ARD application to the district attorney’s office in Norristown, Pennsylvania within thirty days after the applicant’s preliminary hearing date.
Montgomery County PA ARD Application
The Montgomery County District Attorney requires that all ARD applicants waive their preliminary hearing and formal arraignment as a condition for consideration for the program. Individuals accepted into the ARD program are generally notified of ARD admission within 6 weeks from the preliminary hearing date. The district attorney allows applicants to seek a formal reconsideration if their ARD application is denied. A request for reconsideration of ARD denial should be submitted in writing and should identify additional mitigating information not identified in the original ARD application.
Individuals approved for the Montgomery County ARD Program for DUI must pay their ARD court costs in full, complete a drug and alcohol assessment, complete drug and alcohol treatment if required and complete alcohol highway safety classes prior to being admitted into the ARD program. Non-DUI ARD applicants must complete community service and pay ARD costs in full prior to the ARD court date. The typical length of the ARD program in Montgomery County is 6 months. It is important to have an experienced Montgomery County ARD attorney assist you with the application and admission requirements to ensure that you have the best chance for admission into the program.
Once you have completed the conditions of the ARD program, your original criminal charges will be dismissed by the court. Individuals who have successfully completed the ARD program are eligible to petition the court for expungement of their arrest records after 30 days from the ARD completion date. If the expungement petition is granted by the court, the records associated with your case will be destroyed and your criminal charges will not appear on a background check.
I have over a decade of experience helping individuals qualify for and successfully complete the ARD program in Bucks County, Montgomery County and the surrounding counties. Call (215) 752-5282 today for a free consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.
ARD Admission Eligibility
The Pennsylvania ARD program is controlled by a designated District Attorney in each county who has almost unlimited discretion in deciding will be admitted into the program. The ARD program will not be offered to individuals who have been admitted into the ARD program within the last 10 years or to individuals charged with DUI who have a passenger in the vehicle under the age of 14.
Individuals charged with a DUI resulting in the death or serious bodily injuries to another person are also disqualified from eligibility for ARD. There are no guarantees of your admission into the ARD program but there are steps you can take to make your acceptance more likely. I can assist you in making the strongest case possible for admission into the program by providing the district attorney with the necessary information about your background, character and integrity.
Each county has specific conditions, deadlines and pre-admission requirements for ARD applications submitted to the district attorney. I have worked successfully with prosecutors, police and the courts to help individuals gain admission into the ARD program in Bucks County, Montgomery County and the surrounding counties. I can go explain the ARD eligibility and application process for the particular county your charges are filed in.
ARD License Suspensions
Your driver’s license will not be suspended if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was less than .10%. If your BAC was between .10% and .159%, you will lose your license for 30 days. If your BAC was above .16 or if your BAC is not known, your license will be suspended for 60 days. You will also lose your driving privileges for 60 days if you were charged with driving under the influence of drugs (DUI) or if you were involved in a DUI which resulted in bodily injury to the victim or resulted in damage to a vehicle or other property.
Individuals charged with underage DUI will facing a 90 day suspension regardless of the BAC level. One of the primary advantages of the ARD program, aside from the fact that it enables you to avoid jail and offers a shorter suspension period for your driver’s license, is that you can truthfully tell employers you have no criminal convictions. Employers are generally not allowed to ask about your participation in a Pennsylvania ARD program, and these records are not available to the public.
Section 17 as an Alternative to ARD
1st time non-violent drug offenders may be eligible for a pre-trial diversionary program under 35 P.S. § 780-117 of the Pennsylvania Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device and Cosmetic Act. Admission to the Section 17 program requires proof of drug dependency by a physician or psychologist. In Bucks County, Section 17 should be considered for individuals facing drug charges who do not qualify for any of the magisterial district court drug diversion programs due to the Bucks County residency requirement. An individual entering the Section 17 program must enter a guilty plea or a plea of no contest to the drug offense and agree to comply with the conditions of the special probation, including drug treatment if required by the court.
Successful completion of the terms of the Section 17 program will result in a dismissal of the criminal charges by the court. (ADD) Individuals who successfully complete the conditions of the Section 17 program are eligible to petition the court for expungement of the records of the case. The Section 17 program is often a more desirable alternative for 1st time drug offenders than is the ARD program. I can determine if you are eligible for the Section 17 diversion program.
ARD Consequences for Specialized Professions
Entry into the ARD program may result in serious consequences for individuals employed in certain specialized professions. Admission into the ARD program may adversely impact CDL license holders, members of the military, professional license holders and individuals whose employment requires bonding or a security clearance. I can advise you of the most effective legal strategy if you are a member of one of these professions.
Start with a Strong Defense
If you are facing criminal charges in Bucks County, Montgomery County and the surrounding counties, you may qualify for ARD, Section 17, Section 18 or other 1st time offender programs. Do not let a mistake in judgment adversely affect your future. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Call today for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.