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Are You Eligible for the Pennsylvania ARD Program?

Are You Eligible for the Pennsylvania ARD Program?

What Is an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)?

If you are arrested in Harrisburg, or anywhere else in the Central Pennsylvania area, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to protect you from suffering a criminal conviction that could follow you for the rest of your life. The Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter is devoted to getting you the absolute best disposition possible in your criminal case.

The best criminal defense lawyers know how to assess the seriousness of each case and to assess the possible results they can achieve for accused defendants. Some clients who face prosecution for less serious offenses deserve to have their case diverted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program. If your criminal defense lawyer can convince the county district attorney that you qualify for and deserve the chance to participate in the ARD program, your case could be expunged from the record in little more than a year.

What is the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program?

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) began in 1971 to provide a system for diverting low level, nonviolent criminal cases off the criminal prosecution track and into a supportive path in which first-time defendants could receive the appropriate counseling or treatment needed to address the source of their illegal conduct.

Less serious offenses committed by first offenders are often the result of substance use or abuse issues. Alcohol or drug dependence usually affects many aspects of a person’s life, such as their family relationships, employment, and involvement with the criminal justice system. Since the criminal charge against them can be revived if the program participant fails to cooperate with service providers, there is a stronger incentive for the person to complete the diversion program designed to help their rehabilitation.

What happens if you are accepted into the ARD program?

Being accepted into the Alternative Rehabilitative Disposition program does not mean a person is home free. The program must be completed successfully. If it is, then the charge will be dismissed and the records can be expunged.

However, depending on the offense, the program’s demands can be tough. The requirements often include community service, payment of fines, mandatory attendance at educational or training programs, drug or alcohol counseling, and regular reviews by the program facilitators.

In DUI cases, fines of $1,400 are common, and participants who had blood alcohol levels above .10 will have their driver’s license suspended.

Depending on the charges, you may be required to participate in the program for a period of months or up to two years. The benefit of successfully completing the program is a future free of a criminal record interfering with employment, obtaining credit, military service, and even freedom to travel. (Canada, the UK, and Australia restrict entry of people with a record of some criminal offenses.)

What criminal charges are eligible for the ARD program?

Pennsylvania law separates offense into three categories: felonies, misdemeanors, and summary offenses. Felonies and misdemeanors are each divided further into first, second, and third degrees, with first degree being the most serious.

The categories of crimes are generally organized by the length of the possible sentence that can be imposed on an offender. However, some offenses are considered criminal misdemeanors even though they carry a sentence typical of a summary offense. The ARD program was intended to include only the least serious crimes and offenses. The Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter handles all levels of offense, from the most serious first-degree felonies to less serious summary offenses.

That means that many of our clients can be accepted into the ARD program. If our client is eligible and wants to be admitted in the ARD program, our team of criminal defense lawyers will work hard to convince the district attorney to accept their case.

Generally, summary offenses and some nonviolent misdemeanors are eligible for ARD. Rarely, even a low level felony might be accepted for ARD if the circumstances of the case fit.

Summary charges are among the least serious offense in Pennsylvania law. A summary offense is one for which an offender can be locked-up for no more than 90 days. These may include violation of state laws or municipal ordinances. Examples of summary charges are disorderly conduct, possessing a fake ID, loitering, public drunkenness, intoxication, or urination. Others include intentional theft of services valued under $50, shoplifting from a retailer if the first offense and the value is under $150, harassment, violation of dog laws, criminal mischief, and trespass.

Misdemeanors are accepted into ARD if no violence was involved. Low value theft, DUI, minor drug offenses, and vandalizing property are typical cases accepted into the ADR program.

Who decides if you get into the ARD program?

Your admission into the ARD program is controlled entirely by the district attorney in the county where the offense was committed. Your criminal defense attorney will direct you to complete an ADR application. Your lawyer will attach their own letter describing your qualities and circumstances that favor your acceptance.

Your criminal defense lawyer’s familiar relationship with the district attorney can be a powerful incentive for the prosecutor to recommend you for the program. The district attorney’s recommendation is submitted to the judge who approves or rejects the recommendation. If the judge rejects the district attorney’s referral of your case to ARD, then the judge’s decision can be reviewed by a higher court to determine if the judge abused their discretion.

How Attorney Jason R. Carpenter Will Help You

Our criminal defense lawyers at the Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter will inform you of your potential eligibility for the ARD program. If you qualify and you wish to take advantage of the ARD program, we will work tirelessly to prepare your application package and advocate aggressively for you to be accepted.

If you are not eligible, or you don’t want to take part in ARD, then Attorney Carpenter and his associates are committed to providing you with the most aggressive, effective defense of the charges against you. Our goal is to minimize the consequences of your prosecution by winning dismissal of the charges, having the charges reduced, or winning your acquittal.

Your life is at stake. Don’t risk it.

Contact the Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter.

Harrisburg’s Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm