Posts Tagged ‘Berks County Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program’

Spotlight Issue: What you need to know about DUI ARD in Berks County

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Have you been charged with a DUI in Berks County? You may be eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program.  ARD is a program run by the Berks County District Attorney’s Office.  Generally, DUI ARD is available for those who do not have a prior criminal record.  Our attorneys can discuss with you whether or not you are eligible for the program so contact one of our DUI defense attorneys located in Reading, Pennsylvania today. Even if you have an old or minor prior criminal record, including a DUI more than 10 years ago, our attorneys may be able to help you get admission into the program.

There are many benefits to the ARD program for DUI’s.  Most importantly, if you complete the ARD program, you will never plead guilty to a DUI and the charge will be expunged from your record.  Also, the period of time that your license will be suspended is significantly less if you are in the ARD program as opposed to the suspension for a DUI conviction.  The length of time that your license will be suspended for a DUI is most often determined by your blood alcohol content (BAC), but could also be determined by other factors including, but not limited to

- whether you had drugs in your system

- whether there were children in the car

- your involvement in a motor vehicle accident.

The length of time that you would be in the DUI ARD program is also determined by those factors. Our attorneys can help to give you an idea of how long your license may be suspended and how long you may be in DUI ARD program.

So the ARD program sounds great.   How do you get started?  You will usually apply for the DUI ARD program at your preliminary hearing.  Our attorneys can help you fill out the DUI ARD application.  While at your preliminary hearing, you will be given an ARD court date.  In general, that is the date that you will be formally admitted into the DUI ARD program as long as you are approved for placement by the Berks County District Attorney’s Office and as long as you have completed the program requirements.  Program requirements usually include

- community service

- drug and alcohol assessments

- drug, alcohol or mental health treatment

- Alcohol Safe Driving class

- payment of court costs and fines.

You will be expected to surrender your driver’s license on the date that you are formally admitted into the DUI ARD program.

You’re not done as soon as you’re placed into the program though.  You may have additional requirements to complete while you’re in the DUI ARD program.  If the Berks County District Attorney’s Office believes that you are not completing the DUI ARD program as you should be, they will ask the court to terminate you from the program.  If that happens, you will be scheduled for an ARD Termination hearing in front of the court.  At that hearing the Berks County District Attorney’s Office will present the reasons why you should be terminated from the DUI ARD program.  Our attorneys can help you defend against ARD Termination.  Having representation at this hearing is crucial because termination from the DUI ARD program usually means that you will have to start the court process over again and either plead guilty to the DUI charge or go to trial.  However, even after ARD termination the court will sometimes allow reinstatement into the DUI ARD program.  Our attorneys can represent you at the ARD Reinstatement hearing.

It is important that you follow all of the steps correctly to be admitted in the Berks County DUI ARD program.  Our attorneys can help guide you along the way to make sure that you receive the best outcome possible for your case.

ARD for Firearms Charge

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

I (Attorney Ryan W. McAllister) recently represented a young man who was charged with firearms not to be carried without a license, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6106.  This charge was initially graded by the police as a 3rd degree felony.  After reviewing the evidence and the law, however, I was quickly able to determine that the charge should actually be graded as a 1st degree misdemeanor, a less serious grading.  After a discussion with the assistant district attorney assigned to handle the case, the charge was changed to reflect the less serious grading.

As for defending the case itself, my client was only 21 years old and had no prior criminal record.  He was very interested in pursuing the ARD Program, which is a program for first time offenders that allows a defendant to have his record expunged following completion of the program.  I explained to my client that it can be difficult to get ARD for a cases involving firearms, but, I believed, we should put forth every effort to get him admitted to the program.

And, in fact, the initial application to the ARD Program was “denied” by the assistant district attorney assigned to the case.  I had to make my arguments to the “head” District Attorney.  I explained the facts of the case, specifically stating the my client did not make any threats with the firearm.  Also, I explained that my client was fully cooperative with the police throughout the investigation.  Finally, I was also able to subpoena records from the store where my client bought the firearm.  Although this had no bearing on the legality of the case itself, I used this evidence to show the District Attorney that my client had obtained the firearm through proper procedures.

In the end, my client was approved for the ARD Program.  At the start of the case, he was looking at a felony conviction on his record for the rest of his life.  By the time the case was over, however, I was able to get him the opportunity to earn a full dismissal and expungement of the case.  He is currently doing very well on ARD Supervision, and I look forward to getting his expungement order in the mail a few months down the road.

If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor in Berks County or Reading, Pennsylvania, please contact Ebner, Nevins & McAllister, LLC, at 610-372-5128 to setup a free consultation.

Berks County ARD Program for Felony Charges

Friday, October 29th, 2010

I recently represented a client in Berks County who was charged with several felony charges, including theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, identify theft, and forgery.  My client was accused of opening several “credit accounts” using another individual’s name and information and proceeding to make purchases using those accounts.  There were quite a few purchases made over a period of time, and the total value of the items purchased was over $7,000.00.

My client adamantly denied the charges.  Interestingly, my client did not deny making the purchases of these items.  My client did, however, deny that any “credit accounts” were opened or that any purchases were made without the consent of the actual owner of the accounts.  Under no circumstances did my client want to be labeled a “felon”, nor could my client even begin to consider the possibility of serving a prison sentence.

Although my client and I discussed the pros and cons of taking this matter to a jury trial, ultimately a jury would simply have to decide who to believe, my client or the alleged victim.  In essence, it was a classic case of “he said / she said”, and I could not guarantee my client any particular outcome.  Additionally, I could not eliminate the threat of jail time for my client.

I ultimately decided to make an attempt to get my client placed on the ARD Program, which would have to be approved by the Berks County District Attorney’s Office.  Although it is rare for felony charges to qualify for the ARD Program, it is done under certain circumstances.  In this case, I was able to successfully negotiate with the assistant district attorney based one two (2) main factors.  First, the alleged victim in the case was elderly and not in the best health.  Second, my client had enough assets to make a large payment towards the restitution in the case.  Therefore, in order to spare the alleged victim the stress of a trial, my client was approved for the ARD Program.  Additionally, my client made a $5,000.00 payment towards the total amount of restitution in the case prior to being placed on the program.

My client will be under a period of informal supervision for 24 months, during which time the remaining amount of the restitution will be paid off.  Once the ARD Program is complete, my client will have no record of any type of conviction related to this case, and my client’s record will be expunged.  Additionally, by successfully getting my client on the ARD Program, there was no chance of my client serving any jail time.  Finally, my client will be eligible for early termination of ARD after only 12 months, assuming all other program criteria are complete.

In the end, my client was very happy with the outcome and extremely satisfied with my services.  Please call to setup a no-cost consultation if you are facing criminal charges in Berks or the surrounding counties.