The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program is available for crimes other than DUI. ARD is a program run by the Berks County District Attorney’s Office. Generally, ARD is available for those who do not have a prior criminal record. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Even if you have an old or minor prior criminal record, our attorneys may be able to help you gain admission into the program. You will usually complete the ARD application at your preliminary hearing and find out whether or not you have been accepted into the program prior to your case disposition date in the Berks County Court of Common Pleas in Reading.
There are many benefits to the ARD program. Most importantly, if you complete the ARD program, you will never plead guilty to a crime and the charge will be expunged from your record. In addition, if you complete the ARD for a drug crime, you will be able to avoid the mandatory driver’s license suspension.
Although the district attorney’s office has a large amount of discretion in determining how to administer the ARD program, some parts of the program are governed by statute. For example, an ARD sentence cannot be longer than 2 years. In general, ARD sentences in Berks County are not shorter than 6 months. Pennsylvania statute allows the district attorney to include any requirements in an ARD sentence that could be imposed for a probationary sentence. This will usually include restitution, court costs, no-contact orders, trespass provisions and the completion of any relevant treatment program. Treatment programs usually include drug and alcohol counseling, anger management and domestic violence counseling. A fine cannot be imposed for an ARD sentence.
Once the ARD term has passed and all requirements have been completed, the judge assigned to your case will sign an order expunging your case. This is done without anyone appearing in court. Most judges in Berks County will allow a defendant to make a motion for early completion of the ARD program once a period of time has passed and all program requirements have been completed. You should contact our criminal law attorneys if you think that you may be eligible to complete your ARD sentence early.
If a defendant is not complying with his ARD order, the district attorney will make a motion to terminate that defendant from the ARD program. The judge will schedule the case for an ARD termination hearing and at that hearing will make a decision on whether or not to give the defendant additional time to complete the program. It is very important that you are represented by an attorney at an ARD terminating hearing. If your participation in the program is terminated, your case will start over and you will have to either plead guilty or litigate your case.
If you think that you may be eligible for the ARD program or your case has been scheduled for an ARD termination hearing, contact our criminal law attorneys today by calling us at 610-372-5128 or submit your case using the “Ask an attorney” link.