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What is ARD in Pennsylvania?


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ARD stands for 'Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition.' 

It is a diversionary program (predominantly for first-time criminal offenders) that offers people an opportunity to avoid having a permanent criminal record.  It is the criminal justice system's version of a 'second chance.'

ARD Acceptance Requires DA Approval

Before a person can be admitted into ARD, an application requesting admission into the Program must be submitted to the county District Attorney (DA) for approval. 

Acceptance into the ARD Program is at the discretion of each county's District Attorney.  Thus, the eligibility requirements for admission into the Program vary from county to county.  For example, York County has published a list of prohibited offenses that will make a person ineligible for ARD. 

Additionally, some counties, like York and Lancaster, maintain time-sensitive requirements that must be met in order to maintain ARD eligibility.  Failure to meet these requirements can result in denial of a request where a person is otherwise eligible.

Given the varied eligibility requirements, it is important to get the help of a criminal defense lawyer with extensive experience in each county throughout Central PA.  This will ensure that your criminal defense attorney has familiarity with and access to the program requirements that could make or break your opportunity for a 'second chance.'

ARD Admission

Upon approval, admission into the Program will occur at an ARD Hearing before a county judge.

Admission into the Program does not require an admission of guilt or guilty plea.  Instead, in order to receive the opportunity to participate in Program and secure its benefits, a waiver of your speedy trial right will occur.

Normally, the prosecution must bring a person charged with a crime to trial within 365 days of the filing of the criminal charges.  Of course, this period of time can be extended for a number of reasons, which includes delays made by or at the request of the defendant. 

For the purposes of the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program, a person requests that their case be put on hold in order to complete its conditions and obtain the benefits of successful completion.

ARD Program Conditions

Like acceptance into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program, the conditions or requirements also vary from county to county.  For example, Dauphin County requires full payment of an ARD fee prior to formal entry into the Program.

Nonetheless, there are a number of conditions that generally apply:

  1. a period of 6 or 12 months of supervision by county probation;
  2. fees and costs of the Program;
  3. relevant rehabilitative measures, for example, drug & alcohol, mental health, or domestic violence counseling; and,
  4. any other conditions relevant to the specific offense(s) charged.

The Benefits of the Program

Upon successful completion of the ARD Program conditions, a person can petition the court to have their charges dismissed and record expunged -- get a 'clean slate.'

However, there are other benefits of the Program that are offense-specific, for example:

  1. DUI: A person charged with a first-offense for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs could face mandatory minimum jail time and up to a 1 year driver's license suspension.  Under ARD, a person will avoid the mandatory minimum jail sentence and receive a substantially reduced license suspension.
  2. Drug Possession:  A person charged with Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana or Possession of Drugs (like heroin, powdered or crack cocaine, or ecstacy) would be subject to a period of suspension of their driver's license regardless of whether the arrests was associated with a vehicle or not.  Additionally, the license suspension is a recidivist penalty, which means the period of suspension increases with each conviction.  Under ARD, a person will avoid both the immediate license suspension and the record of the criminal conviction that would increase the penalty for potential drug possession convictions in the future. 

An Experienced Professional Helping People Get A 'Second Chance'

If you or someone you care about has been charged with a crime or DUI, contact an experienced and professional Central PA Criminal Defense Lawyer at Shawn Curry Law today.

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