If you are a first-time offender accused of specific nonviolent crimes in Bucks County, you might qualify for a pre-trial intervention program known as Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD). Successful acceptance and completion of the program can keep you from serving jail time if you are charged with qualifying crimes.
At McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., we can help you if you face minor charges for the first time. The ARD program gives you the ability to have a clean slate, and we can work to help you utilize the program’s benefits if you are eligible to apply. In addition, a Bucks County ARD program lawyer from our firm can help you with the application process and represent your interests during every stage.
What Is the ARD Program?
The ARD program is a rehabilitation-focused program that allows people in Bucks County and throughout Pennsylvania a second chance when facing charges for certain nonviolent crimes for the first time. According to the Committee Introduction to Chapter 3, the purpose of the program is:
- The offender’s rehabilitation
- The prompt disposition of charges
For crimes that the courts consider relatively minor, the program benefits all parties by eliminating the need for an expensive trial and encouraging offenders to make a fresh start with a dismissal of charges and a clean record.
Benefits of the ARD Program
The ARD program offers first-time offenders several benefits, including:
- Reduced or no jail time
- Reduced or no driver’s license suspension
- Expungement of charges from your record
- No criminal conviction on your record
- A quick resolution to your case
Many first-time offenders prefer the ARD program to traditional penalties in DUI cases or other minor, nonviolent crimes. For example, a standard conviction could lead to sentencing minimums, other penalties, and a permanent criminal record. Our ARD program lawyers can explain the program’s benefits over traditional routes of resolving a criminal charge.
ARD for DUIs and Other Nonviolent Charges
While many people associate the ARD program with DUI charges in Bucks County, you may also qualify to apply for ARD if you face these charges:
- Theft, including retail theft
- Possession of a controlled substance
- Property crimes
Generally, the Bucks County District Attorney will use the Pennsylvania Basic Sentencing Matrix to determine if the specific charge you face qualifies. Although the DA reserves the right to decide which charges qualify for the program, they usually disqualify all offenses over Level 2.
Eligibility Requirements for the ARD Program
The most basic requirement for ARD program eligibility is that you are a first-time offender. However, the DA considers several factors when evaluating acceptance into the ARD program. Our ARD program attorneys can explain these factors and how they relate to the specific details of your case.
Additional requirements for acceptance into the ARD program in Bucks County include:
- Your crime must be minor
- You must submit your ARD application by the deadline
- You agree to waive your preliminary hearing and right to a trial
- You agree to abide by all other terms of ARD participation
There are also specific eligibility requirements based on the particular charge you face. For example, if you are a first-time DUI offender applying for the ARD program, 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 3807 outlines additional requirements for acceptance to the program:
- Any past participation in the ARD program must have been at least 10 years before the date of the current charges
- If your DUI led to a crash, the accident must not have resulted in bodily injury or death to a third party
- No passenger under the age of 14 was present in the vehicle
Benefits of Working with Our ARD Program Legal Team
The ARD program offers several benefits if you are charged with DUI or other eligible crimes in Bucks County. Our ARD program attorneys can help you navigate the process at every stage, including:
- Explaining the ARD application and eligibility requirements
- Helping you complete your application for Bucks County ARD participation
- Submitting your application and other required documents to the Magisterial District Court by the deadline
- Represent you at the formal ARD acceptance hearing in court if your application is accepted
- Filing a reconsideration request to the District Attorney’s office by the deadline if it denies your ARD application
While the process of application and acceptance into the Bucks County ARD program can seem complicated, it also offers you the chance to keep your criminal record clean and avoid jail time in many cases. Our lawyers can help you complete all the steps required for the ARD program and work toward a quick resolution of your charges so you can move forward.
What Is the Process of Applying for the ARD Program in Bucks County?
The process of applying for the ARD program involves making sure you meet specific eligibility requirements and submit the correct documents by the deadline in your case. Our Buck County ARD program lawyers can work with you to ensure you correctly complete the following steps:
- Submit the form to waive your preliminary hearing
- Submit the ARD application form to the correct court on or before your preliminary hearing date
- Submit the ARD Information Form with your application
- Waive your right to a speedy trial from the date of your ARD application until the date of the final disposition of your case
If the DA’s office approves your application, the judge will set a court hearing to accept you into the program formally. If the prosecutor denies your application, you could seek reconsideration.
Contact Our ARD Program Lawyers in Bucks County Today
If you face first-time charges for a nonviolent crime in Bucks County, you may qualify for the ARD program. It is essential to understand how the program can benefit your current situation. Our ARD program attorneys can explain the process and assist with your application if you face DUI or other minor charges in Bucks County.
For more information, call McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., today at (610) 991-7219 for your free case evaluation.