Individuals who have been charged with non-violent offenses and have a limited or no prior criminal record may be accepted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program, usually referred to as ARD. ARD is a pre-trial diversionary program that provides prompt resolution of criminal cases and allows the accused to avoid a criminal record and jail time.
The ARD program is run by the district attorney’s office of each county. The program operates at the discretion of the district attorney, meaning that the DA must approve a person for entry into the program. To apply for ARD, you must fill out an application with basic background information about yourself, as well as your prior criminal record. The DA uses this information to determine whether placement on the ARD program is appropriate for your case.
If the DA rejects a person for ARD, that decision is final and the case will continue through the normal court process. If a person is approved for ARD, they are placed on probation for a period of time and ordered to pay court costs and do community service. If the ARD program is successfully completed, the charges against the defendant will be dismissed and will not appear on the defendant’s criminal record. If you fail to complete the program as required, or are arrested for another offense, you can be removed from the ARD program and the case will return to the regular court process.
It is possible to apply for ARD without having an attorney. However, many people consult with an attorney to learn more about the ARD program and whether they are eligible. At Masorti Law Group, we have helped countless clients with ARD cases. We meet with the client to analyze the case and determine whether the person is suitable for an ARD disposition. This usually means that the person is a first time offender and/or the offense is nonviolent and relatively minor. The most common types of cases that result in an ARD disposition are DUI and possession of a small amount of marijuana.
We also answer any questions the client may have while filling out the application form and explain the rights that a person must waive in order to be admitted to the ARD program. These include waiving: (1) your right to a preliminary hearing; (2) your right to a speedy trial; (3) your right to ask for discovery or file motions in the case; and (4) the filing of a Criminal Information.
In Centre County, individuals must apply for ARD at or before their preliminary hearing date. A decision from the district attorney’s office can take approximately two weeks. If approved for ARD, you will then attend an ARD placement hearing. In Centre County, a large group of defendants are placed on ARD at a single proceeding. The judge will read the Order including all the conditions which must be followed, one time for everyone. Then each person being placed on ARD will be asked individually whether they heard the Order, understand it, and agree to be bound by it. Following the hearing, everyone who has been placed on ARD will go to the Probation Office, where you will receive more information and begin the program.
After successful completion of the ARD program, a Defendant may petition to have the record expunged from the court system.
This information can be used to apply for ARD on your own if you choose. To begin, please see the links on the right. If, however, you would like to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to evaluate your case and assist in the ARD application and placement process, Contact Us to set up an appointment.
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Progam
Certain types of criminal cases may be eligible for resolution by the Centre County Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program, a special pre-trial intervention program for non-violent offenders who have limited or no prior criminal record. The primary purpose of the ARD Program is the prompt disposition of charges, eliminating the need for costly and time-consuming trials for defendants who lend themselves to treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment, and who are unlikely to commit another crime.
The aim of the program is to intervene at an early stage, so that remedial steps can be taken to prevent future incidents of a similar nature. Defendants in the program are "fast-tracked" into the placement and treatment phase as soon as possible, which contributes to the public safety. Offenders may also bee ordered to complete varying amounts of Community Service. For DUI cases, the defendant's operator's license will be suspended for varying periods, less than the minimum one-year suspension required after conviction.
The arresting police officer and the Victim of the crime have the opportunity to offer prior comment on the defendant's admission into the ARD Program. There is no right to participate in the ARD Program and eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis. Admission is within the sole discretion of the District Attorney's Office. Acceptance into and satisfactory completion of the ARD Program offers the defendant an opportunity to earn a clean record and dismissal of the pending charges. However, should the defendant fail to satisfactorily complete the ARD program, the defendant will be removed from the ARD Program and will be prosecuted as provided by law.
In order to be eligible for the program and to take advantage of the expedited nature of the program, defendants must agree to the following: (1) Apply for the program no later than the regularly scheduled preliminary hearing; (2) Waive the preliminary hearing; (3) Waive the right to a speedy trial; and (4) Waive the filing of a criminal information. Defendants must also agree to abide by the terms and conditions of bail, refrain from the unlawful use and/or posession of controlled substances and agree to remain arrest free prior to your entry into the program and during their participation in the program.
ARD PLACEMENT DATE - Defendants must apply for ARD at or before their preliminary hearing. The defendant will be notified by the District Attorney when the ARD application is approved or denied. If the defendant's ARD application is approved, the ARD placement date will be held on the defendant's FORMAL ARRAIGNMENT DATE, unless notified otherwise by the Court. If the defendant's ARD application is denied, the arraignment date will simply proceed as the defendant's formal arraignment date, a Criminal Information will then be filed, and the defendant will be prosecuted as provided by law.
If the defendant's ARD application is approved, and the defendant fail to enter the ARD Program on the scheduled arraignment date or other scheduled date, the defendant's ARD approval will be rescinded. IF THIS OCCURS, THE DEFENDANT IS NOT ENTITLED TO A REMAND FOR A PRELIMINARY HEARING.
To apply for the ARD Program, please carefully and accurately filled out the Centre County ARD Application and submit it to the Centre County District Attorney's Office at or before your preliminary hearing date. Applications will be available at the preliminary hearing and can be found online at: http://centrecountypa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/257/