Pennsylvania’s ARD Option • Diversion Program For First-Time Offenders
If you have been arrested for or charged with certain crimes for the first time, you may have a chance to avoid jail time, shorten a driver’s license suspension period, and avoid criminal conviction. Under Pennsylvania law, first-time offenders may qualify for a pretrial diversion program called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, or ARD.
Under the ARD option, first-time offenders can avoid jail time and qualify to have all record of their arrest cleared from their criminal record. Every county has its own specific eligibility requirements and a very detailed application process: You need an experienced ARD lawyer to help you understand if you qualify and guide you through the process. Contact our defense attorneys at Hark and Hark.
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First-time offenders charged with assault, certain white collar crimes such as embezzlement and theft, or DUI or DWI may qualify for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. People charged with other crimes do not qualify.
ARD can help first-time offenders avoid the criminal justice system, and the program diverts these offenders into a program designed to rehabilitate offenders who are unlikely to commit another crime. The program helps first-time offenders:
- Avoid jail time
- Spend less time in court
- Have a shorter driver’s license suspension period and avoid the mandatory one-year suspension
- Spend less time doing community service
- Avoid a conviction and keep your criminal record clean
If you complete the ARD program successfully, you qualify for a record expungement, meaning that your criminal record will be cleared of the arrest, the charges, and even the completion of the ARD program.
First-time offenders must meet the following requirements to be considered for the ARD option:
- The offender has no prior criminal history
- The charge of DUI, assault, embezzlement or theft is the first offense
- If the offender participated in the ARD option before, it must have been more than 10 years ago
- No third party was harmed or killed if the offender was involved in a drunk driving accident
- The offender has not already been convicted at trial
- The offender successfully applies for admission into the ARD program through the county’s district attorney’s office within the deadline
At Hark and Hark, our criminal defense lawyers understand the law concerning alternate punishment such as ARD, and we can help determine if you qualify. If you do, we can help you apply for admission into the ARD program and get you on the road to a clean criminal record.
The application process for the ARD option is different in every county. We can help you successfully apply in Philadelphia County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, and other jurisdictions. We can explain the process and help you truthfully answer application questions and complete all other required steps.
In most counties, ARD admission is reviewed on a case-by-case basis for first-time offenders, so we can help determine if this option is right for you. Some DUI cases, for example, are cases that will likely be won at trial, so taking the ARD option may not be your best choice.
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