Legal Blog

 

Are You Eligible for ARD in Montgomery County, PA?

May 09 2024, by Michael Fienman in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI, Juvenile Crimes, Legal Blog
ARD in Montgomery County, PA

Whether you’re facing a DUI, drug possession, or other charges, convictions leave behind a criminal record that can affect future employment and financial prospects. If you’re looking to resolve a criminal case without long-lasting consequences, the Pennsylvania pre-trial diversion program, Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD), may be an option available to you.

However, getting accepted into ARD is not guaranteed. Not everyone can apply, and there is a screening process.

This guide covers what you need to know about the ARD Program in Montgomery County, PA. With this information, you and your attorney can weigh the benefits and determine whether to apply.

ARD in Montgomery County, PA

For those arrested in Lower Merion and the surrounding areas, the ARD program allows first-time offenders in Pennsylvania to opt for rehabilitation and diversion while keeping their criminal records clean. If accepted into the ARD program, the case gets placed in diversion while allowing the offender to comply with the program’s requirements.

ARD aims to put state resources to more efficient use while recognizing offenders amenable to rehabilitation. Once the offender completes the requirements, the charges against them could be withdrawn, dismissed, or expunged from their permanent records.

Who Qualifies for ARD?

The ARD program is available to those without criminal convictions or previous ARD dispositions. Additionally, the charges against the accused should be non-violent.

The ARD Chief Prosecutor reviews all criminal cases for potential ARD admission. Additionally, the application process for the ARD program differs in each county. Plus, the conditions for rehabilitation and supervision under ARD differ based on individual cases.

What Are the Benefits of ARD?

The ARD program allows first-time offenders in Montgomery County to avoid long-term consequences while reducing the penalties and punishment they may receive after conviction. While the exact details will differ on a case-by-case basis.

Common benefits of the ARD in Montgomery County.

  • Reduced fines and fees
  • Avoid jail time
  • Avoid criminal conviction
  • Reduced license suspension
  • Avoiding trial
  • Potential expungement
  • Rehabilitation and education
  • Faster resolution

In addition, completing the ARD program can help the accused retain their employment by preventing a conviction.

Eligibility for ARD in Montgomery County, PA

ARD eligibility in Montgomery County depends on a variety of factors. Here are some of the basic requirements the accused must fulfill:

  • They should be a first-time offender and have no prior criminal history.
  • The charges against them should be non-violent.
  • No third party was harmed or killed by the accused in a drunk driving accident.
  • They should submit their admission application within a timely manner.
  • They shouldn’t have previously participated in the ARD program.

Even if a defendant meets these conditions, not all charges are eligible for admission into the ARD.

What Charges Are Eligible for ARD?

In addition to the requirements mentioned above, defendants accused of the following charges may be eligible for a ARD.

Note that this isn’t a complete list. We also handle cases where ARD eligibility is negotiable. One example was a case against a nursing student charged with drug-related DUI. Though her charge wasn’t officially listed, attorney Michael Fienman got her admitted to an ARD program and had her record expunged.

ARD cases we’ve handled

What Charges Are Ineligible for ARD?

  • Most Felonies
  • Charges involving Violence
  • Sexual Offenses
  • DUI resulting in serious bodily injury or death

Ultimately, the District Attorney is responsible for determining which cases and charges are eligible or ineligible. Hence, the list varies for each county.

You should also remember that the ARD program is a special, and admission to the program is at the discretion of the DA. Even if you fit the criteria, your case may be denied entry due to certain circumstances. For example, if you’re applying for a Montgomery County ARD program for DUI charges, the presence of a minor passenger (under 14 years) during your DUI arrest can harm your chances of admission to the program.

In addition, the DA may also reject your case because your application wasn’t filed correctly. At times, applications can be rejected for seemingly no reason at all.

Are There Drawbacks to ARD?

ARD may not always be the best solution for individuals in specialized professions since entry into an ARD program may result in the revocation of their licenses, certifications, or employment. We advise these individuals to explore alternative options to get their charges dismissed or acquitted.

How To Enroll in the Montgomery County ARD Program

Entry requirements and procedures for ARD are unique to each county. But if you plan to apply for ARD in Montgomery County, PA, you must:

  • Waive your right to a speedy trial (from the date of ARD application to the date that your case is dismissed)
  • Submit an ARD application to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office

You should also submit appropriate documentation for your ARD application in Montgomery County. Ideally, you should consult your attorney so you can be sure to include documents that will help your case.

Complying With the Terms of ARD

Once approved for the ARD program, you must comply with its terms. Non-compliance with ARD will be an issue as it can get you removed from the program and your case will be sent to trial where you will face your original charges.

The terms and conditions of your ARD program depend on your charges and are determined by the district attorney on a case by case basis. The most common ARD conditions include:

  • Community service
  • Substance abuse treatment programs
  • Restitution
  • Driver’s safety classes
  • Case-related fines and court fees
  • Random drug testing
  • Avoidance of new charges during ARD program participation

Apart from completing the ARD process in Montgomery County, you’ll also need to pay all court fees, supervision costs, restitution fees, etc.

What does ARD Cost in Montgomery County?

The cost of applying and going through an ARD program differs widely across counties and is case-by-case. The program will may put you on a payment plan once you submit a down payment to the Clerk of Courts.

You may be removed from the Montgomery County ARD program if you fail to make payments on time.

The Role of Local Legal Representation in ARD

Suburban counties such as Montgomery County can be pretty conservative regarding criminal charges. Protecting your rights in Montgomery County requires a well-defined defense strategy and legal know-how.

Your biggest task is to convince the DA to approve you for the program. This isn’t easy because there are many aspects to consider, including eligibility requirements, document submission, etc. Your approval can also depend on feedback from your peers, family, the victims of the crime, etc.

Whether it’s paperwork or speaking to the parties involved, your criminal defense lawyer in Montgomery County can handle it. They’re experienced in the field, know the processes in and out, can identify issues quickly, and help facilitate a favorable outcome.

If you’re interested in being considered for ARD, finding a criminal defense attorney for ARD in Montgomery County should be done before you submit your application.

Other Pretrial Diversion Options in Montgomery County

ARD isn’t the only way to avoid a criminal record. Defendants may also consider:

Despite these options, ARD remains the most popular pre-trial diversion program in Montgomery County because it covers the broadest range of criminal charges. All diversion programs have specific eligibility requirements.

Questions about ARD in Montgomery County? Call Fienman Defense

Pre-trial diversions such as ARD can help those dealing with charges start anew and live a life without criminal records hanging over them.

If you’re charged with a crime in Montgomery County, PA, and believe you could be a good candidate for ARD., it’s time to consult an experienced lawyer. Fienman Defense is down the street from the Magisterial District Courts (MDJ) in Lower Merion Township. The courthouse for MDJ 38-1-06, MDJ 38-1-07, and MDJ 38-2-04 is located on Montgomery Avenue in Narberth, PA.

We’re fixtures in the local courts and know what it takes to get you approved and admitted into ARD. Contact attorney Micheal Fienman today for a free and confidential case evaluation. We’ll discuss your case, options, and whether ARD or another program could favorably resolve your charges.

Attorney Michael H. Fienman represents clients in criminal and traffic matters throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Mr. Fienman has completed the same DWI detection training as most law enforcement officers, and he holds a certificate in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). As an experienced trial attorney, practicing in Montgomery County for nearly 15 years, he understands your rights. He is a zealous advocate known for relentlessly defending clients in state court, federal court, and before administrative agencies.

Attorney Fienman is licensed to practice before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court of New Jersey, the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, and the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.