The Pennsylvania Accelerated Rehabilitative Deposition (ARD) program offers a unique chance for first-time offenders to reduce the consequences of a criminal charge. While this doesn’t apply to all criminal cases, it mainly applies to petty theft, driving under the influence (DUI), and other non-violent offenses.
If you want to apply for this program, a Berks County criminal defense lawyer can assess your options. McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. is ready to champion your legal rights today.
What Is the ARD?
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania approved the ARD to reduce resources spent on trials and court proceedings. The program emphasizes rehabilitation over punishment and touts the following benefits should you be accepted:
- Reduction or elimination of jail time associated with your charge
- Disposition of your criminal charges
- Reduction of license suspension following a DUI
- The ability to have an offense expunged from your record
What Crimes Does the ARD Apply To?
Petty theft and driving while intoxicated are just two programs that the ARD covers. Per Berks County, you could also qualify for this program if you’re facing charges related to the following:
- Retail theft
- Criminal mischief
- Disorderly conduct
- Public drunkenness
- Underage drinking
- Criminal trespassing
When determining whether the ARD program is right for you, the county will consider your role in society, amenability, criminal history, and the details surrounding your arrest.
Application Process for the Berks County Accelerated Disposition Program
ARD programs vary county by county. To qualify for the ARD program in Berks County, you must complete three forms within three days of your preliminary hearing. These forms are the ARD Application, a Subpoena for ARD Hearing, and an Appearance for Entry into ARD Programs.
Once submitted, the county will interview you and review your case. It will notify you or your attorney once it has made a decision.
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 before 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) before ARD Court.
- They must apply for the ARD program during their preliminary hearing.
In summary cases, such as 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 completing 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 rejected, and the case shall proceed per 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.
Can the Courts Reject My ARD Application?
The short answer to this question is yes. A few factors could make your case ineligible for the ARD program, such as:
- You’re facing a second-time DUI charge.
- Your actions injured another party.
- You neglect to apply for the ARD during your preliminary hearing.
- Your vehicle had passengers aged 14 years or younger when you were arrested for drinking and driving.
- You neglected to submit a refusal form after refusing a blood, breath, or urine test after being arrested for drinking and driving.
- Your license was suspended or revoked at the time of the DUI.
- You committed another offense while awaiting prosecution for another one.
If any of these disqualifying factors apply to your case, the District Attorney may reject your application. Yet, support from a Berks County ARD lawyer can help you understand your next steps.
What Can a Berks County ARD Lawyer Do if My Case Is Rejected?
If the county or district attorney rejects your ARD application, you still have options when fighting the criminal charges against you. When you partner with McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., we’ll first review the reasons for your application’s denial. If possible, we will determine whether reapplying for the ARD program is possible. If this isn’t possible, you still have options.
We Will Combat the Charges Against You
Attorney David McKenzie is a criminal defense lawyer who used to serve as a prosecutor. He knows what tactics the prosecutor will use to secure a “guilty” verdict. If you’re cleared of all criminal charges, you won’t have to proceed with the ARD program.
We can pursue the best possible outcome for your criminal case by:
- Determining whether the evidence against you is valid
- Evaluating whether your arrest was conducted in good faith
- Aiming for a reduction of the charges against you
- Presenting an argument to have your charges dropped, reduced, or dismissed
- Calling on witnesses to testify on your behalf
You can trust our team to use its years of experience to advocate for you. We want to secure an outcome that protects your future and ambitions.
A History of Client Satisfaction at McKenzie Law Firm, P.C.
At McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., we have a track record of satisfied clients. Testimonials from our clients demonstrate our dedication to quality and compassionate support:
- “David is an amazing lawyer and professional. From our first meeting, he was responsive and listened to all of our worries and fears. He doesn’t judge you for the reason you ended up needing his services.” – Caitlin. F.
- “Had an employee go through a rough patch while out in Pennsylvania. He was out there for business and caught a serious felony DUI with a major accident. McKenzie Law Firm really came through! Thank you for your professionalism and getting our team member back on track.” – Andrew S.
These testimonials provide insight into the expertise behind our firm. For our clients, we provide 24/7 communication through text, email, and phone calls.
Contact McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. for Berks County ARD Help
If you’re a first-time offender facing criminal charges in Berks County, participating in ARD can avoid going to trial and facing a conviction. Our team will help you understand the application process, guide you through the necessary forms, and represent you should your application be rejected.
At McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., we prioritize active communication with our clients. We offer free case evaluations and guarantee that our legal support will have no hidden fees. Whether you’re facing a DUI, theft, or another charge, we’re ready to support you.
Call or contact us online to reach our offices serving Berks County today.