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.