The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program in Berks County is for first time alleged offenders accused of certain criminal offenses. The program is intended to encourage offenders to make a fresh start after participating in a rehabilitative program and gives them the chance to dismiss charges and have their arrest record expunged upon completion of the program.
ARD is a rehabilitation program run by the Berks County district attorney. It is important for people to understand that you must apply to be accepted into the ARD program, and it is critical that an application be properly submitted because there is no right to appeal if the application is rejected for any reason.
Berks County ARD Program Eligibility
The ARD program is especially well-known for driving under the influence (DUI) offenses in Berks County. A person may be eligible for the ARD Program on a DUI charge if they meet all of the following requirements:
- This is their first offense for DUI, and they had no other prior misdemeanors, felonies, or ARD dispositions.
- Nobody was killed or suffered a serious bodily injury (other than the alleged offender) as a result of an accident.
- No passenger under 14 years of age was in the vehicle.
- The alleged offender had a valid driver’s license that was not suspended, revoked, or canceled at the time of arrest for DUI.
- The alleged offender must undergo a Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation prior to admission into the ARD Program and participate in any recommended treatment or counseling.
- If the alleged offender refused a breath, blood, or urine test, the arresting officer must send a “refusal form” to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) (and a copy to the district attorney’s Office) prior to ARD Court.
- They must apply for the ARD program at the time of their preliminary hearing.
In summary cases, such as those involving criminal mischief, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, harassment, public drunkenness, retail theft, truancy, or underage drinking, they must submit a written application to the Magisterial District Judge (MDJ).
Berks County ARD Program Requirements
Upon successful completion of the ARD Program, the Adult Probation & Parole Office will forward a petition to the district attorney’s Office and the Court of Common Pleas requesting that the DUI charge be expunged.
For summary offenses, an alleged offender must make a written application to the MDJ for admission into the summary ARD program. Upon receipt of the application for admission into the summary ARD program, the MDJ will forward it to the district attorney.
The district attorney will review the application and notify the MDJ of a decision to either approve or deny the application. If the district attorney denies the application, the MDJ will notify the alleged offender that their application has been denied and the case shall then proceed in accordance with Chapter 4 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure.
When Your Application Is Approved
If the application is approved, the MDJ will notify the alleged offender of the approval and set a hearing date for admission into the program. An alleged offender accepted into ARD may be referred to any of the following programs and shall pay any costs associated with a program:
- The UDecide Program (UDP), formerly known as the Underage Drinking Program of Berks County
- STOPLIFT Adult Shoplifting Intervention Program
- STOPLIFT Juvenile Shoplifting Intervention Program
- Adult Probation Community Service Program
- Juvenile Probation Community Service Program
- A recommended program subject to approval from the district attorney
All costs and restitution must be paid before the completion of the ARD program. When the MDJ deems that the alleged offender has met all of the requirements of the ARD program, the summary charge filed against the defendant will be dismissed.
Get a Free Consultation with a Berks County ARD Program Lawyer
The McKenzie Law Firm helps clients all over Berks County qualify for and complete ARD programs. Do not try to navigate this program on your own, as we offer a completely free initial consultation to discuss your case with us and learn more about what you will have to do.
Berks County ARD Program Violations
The district attorney can file a motion with the court seeking to remove an alleged offender from the ARD program if they violate any condition of ARD. Possible grounds for removal include:
- A commission of another offense set forth in either the Crimes Code, Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, or in Title 75 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute §1542
- Failure to make required restitution
- Failure to complete the mandated highway safety school program
- Failure to complete any other program mandated as a condition of ARD
- Violation of the terms and conditions of ARD in any other way
Berks County ARD Program Benefits
The ARD program comes with several benefits. First, successfully completing the program will mean the county dismisses the offense. The criminal record can then be expunged.
Such provisions will help people preserve their right to possess a firearm, help them obtain future employment, and continue receiving governmental benefits. The ARD program will also eliminate the potential for any jail sentence.
Finally, ARD can reduce the period of time one’s license would be suspended and could even eliminate a license suspension altogether.
Let Our Berks County ARD Program Lawyer Helpo
Are you trying to apply for the ARD program in Berks County? You do not have to handle the application process alone.
Contact McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. as soon as possible. David C. McKenzie III was selected to Super Lawyers for 2022 based on an evaluation of 12 indicators including peer recognition and professional achievement in legal practice.
McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. handles cases all over Berks County as well as Montgomery County, Bucks County, Chester County, and Delaware County. David McKenzie knows that the entire criminal process can be especially confusing for people facing charges for the first time, so he takes the time to really help people understand their rights.