The state of Pennsylvania does not take drug- and alcohol-related crimes lightly. That said, the state does understand that jail time is not the appropriate punishment for every one of these cases. Addiction is a real problem, and some people would benefit from rehabilitation rather than traditional criminal punishment. This is what the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition Program is for.
Most states have their own version of the ARD program. How does it work in Pennsylvania? Who can get into the program? What happens if a person fails to complete the ARD program in its entirety?
ARD in Pennsylvania
The ARD program is, in short, a diversion program that removes a case from criminal court and places it in the hands of a rehabilitation court. If charged with a drug- or alcohol-related crime, it can give you a second chance of sorts, by allowing you to skip traditional punishment and receive the help you need to break your dependence on drugs, alcohol or both.
In order for an ARD program to admit you, you must be a first-time, nonviolent offender. If the district attorney accepts the request to move your case to the ADR program, the court will temporarily suspend the charges against you. You will have to complete various classes, attend group and private meetings with counselors, and submit to random and scheduled drug/alcohol screenings -- among other things. In other words, it will take work.
If you successfully complete the program, the following things can happen:
- Dismissal of charges
- Record expungement
It is well worth your time and effort to get into and complete the ARD program rather than have a criminal record.
Failure to complete the program
If you get into the program and then fail to meet all the requirements to pass it, your case will head back to criminal court. The charges against you will stand, and the prosecuting attorney will do everything in his or her power to make sure you receive punishment to the fullest extent of the law.
If you are facing drug- or alcohol-related offenses, or both, and are wondering if the ARD program is an option for you, legal counsel will have the ability to review your case and help you determine if you should apply. If your case is not accepted into the program, defense strategies can then discuss defense options and next steps.