WHAT IS THE PHILADELPHIA ARD PROGRAM?
ARD or Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition is a program for first-time criminal offenders in the state of Pennsylvania. If successfully completed, the program results in a complete expungement of your criminal record. This means you should pass most state background checks following successful completion of the program. ARD is often expensive and laborious. Unlike trials where a defendant often shows up to court for a couple hours and goes home, the ARD program carries obligations such as court costs and rehabilitative classes. ARD also carries with it temporary probation. The probation is usually non-reporting or “phone reporting” and therefore less intensive than probation for individuals on probation for more serious offenses, or for individuals with a prior criminal record.
SHOULD I TAKE THE PHILADELPHIA ARD?
The most obvious advantage of Pennsylvania ARD is that if completed you will not be convicted of a crime. Another obvious benefit is that you will pass most state background checks, and if asked whether you have ever convicted a crime on a job application the proper answer is, “no.” Your attorney can also file an expungement after your completion of the program resulting in a complete removal of your criminal record from public access dockets.
DRAWBACKS OF PHILADELPHIA ARD PROGRAM
If you can beat your case, it’s a better deal than ARD. ARD is going to be expensive and time consuming. You will likely spend hours in classes, months on probation, and pay at least a thousand dollars in court costs. On the other hand, if you take your case to trial and win, you walk out of the courthouse without any obligations whatsoever. Your case is effectively over and you can file for an expungement as if you took the program. Obviously, taking a case to trial and winning is better than ARD. However, if it is not a guarantee you are going to win your case then ARD may be a “safe option.”
CAN I GET INTO THE ARD PROGRAM?
In Philadelphia, it is relatively easy to be accepted into ARD if you are a first-time offender (no prior criminal record) facing a non-violent misdemeanor offense. If you are facing a felony offense or have some limited prior criminal record, or there is some violence involved in the allegations, it may still make sense to apply for ARD. Since District Attorney Larry Krasner was elected, more individuals have been getting accepted to the program. This means that if in years past you would have been disqualified, you may now be eligible. Recently defendants charged with gun offenses, and even felony Aggravated Assault have been considered and entered into the ARD program under particular circumstances. Speak with your attorney about applying for ARD.
CAN YOU GET ME INTO THE ARD PROGRAM?
ARD applicants are evaluated by the Office of the District Attorney on a case-by-case basis. Your attorney plays a critical role in applying for ARD. Your defense lawyer sends a letter to the DA asking for admission into the program. In the letter the attorney should lay out why you are a strong candidate, and may attach supporting documents such as proof of employment, community service completion, references from the community, completion of high school or college courses, and anything else that may differentiate you from other applicants. The application should be submitted well in advance of trial. Speak with your attorney about filing the ARD application or call our office at 267.535.9776
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON USAGES FOR ARD
Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) is a common resolution to DUI First Offense and other non violent crimes in Philadelphia. Eligibility is based on prior criminal records. Eligible defendants are generally first time offenders charged with relatively minor offenses. The ARD program enables the state to impose a more lengthy period of supervision than the AMP program. The maximum period of supervision under ARD is two years probation. Generally, AMP supervision does not exceed eight weeks. This is is a critical difference between the programs. Defendants are accepted into ARD at the discretion of the DA’s office. A good defense lawyer will petition the DA’s office, and make the case for ARD, if they believe this would be an optimum disposition for defendant.
WHAT RIGHTS AM I GIVING UP? IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I NEED TO KNOW?
Prior to entering into ARD, the defendants must agree to serve probation with certain conditions. The conditions depend on whether the alleged crime is a DUI, drug offense, or misdemeanor. DUI offenders will be required to get alcohol treatment. Drug offenders may be required to get drug specific treatment. Defendant charged with simple assault may have a condition to attend anger management classes. The conditions are fact specific to the crime in question, and your lawyer should be consulted to evaluate whether the conditions are appropriate for your alleged crime.
Defendants entering in the ARD program give up their right to a speedy trial. Conditions of ARD also generally include payment of court costs, restitution, and treatment. The probation department is primarily responsible for seeing that conditions are met. The length of probation is dependent on the ADA’s perception of the severity of the crime. If the defendant does not meet the conditions of ARD, the DA has discretion to remove them from the program and try the case. The defendant may be removed from ARD if another crime is committed while on probation.
If you are a first-time offender in Pennsylvania it is important to be aware of the possibility of ARD. Speak with a criminal defense lawyer about your case to see if your are eligible. Call now at (267) 535-9776 to set up an appointment to discuss whether you may be eligible for ARD.