While most people think of ARD as being for DUI charges it can also be available for Retail Theft, Theft, minor Drug Possession, vandalism and other misdemeanor offenses.
ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition) is a program provided by the County which allows a defendant to avoid jail time and other penalties. The primary purpose of the ARD program is the rehabilitation of the offender. Secondarily, the purpose is the prompt disposition of charges, eliminating the need for costly and time-consuming trials or other court proceedings. It is usually meant for first time offenders who show a need, and desire, for treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment. In some Counties you cannot be admitted into an ARD Program unless you are represented by an attorney. If you are accepted into an ARD program you do not have to plead guilty to any charges.
ARD is not a “light” sentence nor are you guaranteed that the District Attorney will accept you into the ARD program. If accepted into the ARD Program you will have to perform community service, register with the probation office and follow through on everything that your probation officer requests from you. There are other strict rules that must be followed once you are accepted and failure to follow all the rules can get you removed from the program and back in Court facing possible jail time for the original offense.
Upon completion of an ARD program, including the payment of all fines and costs, all charges will be dismissed against you. You may still want to file a Motion for Expungement which will officially remove the charges from your record. The District Attorney’s Office will always have a record but it will not by public. ARD may be offered in conjunction with drug court for Driving Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance.