Every year, Pennsylvanians have their lives thrown into turmoil because of criminal charges threatening to scar their permanent record with past mistakes. Permanent records are getting easier and easier to pull up, and background checks have almost become a routine part of our daily lives. You don’t have to look far nowadays to find some website or service that will dig up dirt on just about anyone. You can find mugshots, arrest records, even employment history at the drop of a hat these days. So, what do you do?
The State of Pennsylvania has a system to help first offenders protect their permanent records, and also to decrease the number of individuals with scars on their records in the state. This is known as ARD, and anyone with a first offense drug charge or DUI under their belt has heard about it. ARD stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, and it’s considered a “diversionary” program, which means it takes a different path from the normal course of trial proceedings, and your case is removed from the trial list.
Individuals that have been placed on ARD serve probationary periods with a maximum sentence of two years. When it comes to who is eligible, and which charges are worthy of the ARD Program, each county and city is different. Typically, it’s a program offered to DUI offenders, but is also made available to first offense drug offenders in some areas. Depending on your area of residence, you may be rejected for ARD. Our legal representation has been instrumental in the past in making sure an offender gets the ARD they need to get their life back under control.
ARD is a program offered specially in Pennsylvania. Other states have diversionary programs for different levels of offenses and infractions. However, Pennsylvania is the only state with the ARD program for a wide variety of offenders. The program isn’t even available in the nearby states of NJ, NY, DE or MD. So if you find yourself eligible, consider yourself lucky (as lucky as you can be after getting arrested) that you live in the state of PA.
Just remember that the ARD program is not without its risks. When you are actively on ARD, you are formally on probation. Sometimes it’s non-reporting, but other times it isn’t, and you have to be extremely respectful to the probation officer handling your case. At the same time, you should make sure to go to every class or seminar that the program requires you to attend.
Finally, you want to protect yourself by not making the same mistakes again. Remember that law enforcement has a better memory than you realize. Once you’ve gotten a DUI or DWI, they may be on the lookout for you in the near future. If you’re on ARD and you get another DUI or drug charge, it’s bad news. Not only do you lose the chance to stay on ARD, but your original case is brought back to the trial list, often with the maximum sentence waiting for you. On top of that, you’re going to have to fight an entirely different case where you won’t get the benefit of doubt, as you already made the mistake once.
We will walk you through the entirety of the ARD process and let you know if it’s the right decision. If you’re rejected for ARD, you need to seek legal representation. From county to county, ARD cases are treated differently and we understand this. Please contact us today—don’t try to represent yourself in a criminal matter, even if you believe you can apply for ARD yourself. It’s always in your best interests to retain an attorney. Call us today at 215.401.7279 for a full case evaluation at no cost.