ARD means Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition.
ARD is for first time non-violent offenders, or non-violent offenders, who have not committed any crimes in a decade or more, and with the latter it usually has to be a minor offense.
ARD is usually a one time chance for an alleged offender to pay fines, restitution if applicable, perform community service, and usually be on non-reporting probation. Once all conditions, requirements to complete ARD have been met, ones case is dismissed and then one can petition the court to expunge their record. Wipe the slate clean so that one can pass a criminal background to get a job.
Unfortunately, there are no set guidelines in Pennsylvania regarding who is eligible for ARD. ARD eligibility is determined by the District Attorney in each and every county of Pennsylvania, that’s right, there are different standards for ARD eligibility in each and every county. ARD is also determined on a case-by-case basis.
However, the usual custom for most counties is for one to waive their preliminary hearing and speedy trial rights. The Speedy Trial Rights are waived because District Attorneys are overwhelmed with a mountain of ARD applications and it takes a long time in some counties to make a determination.
If, one has a preliminary hearing than one will beyond a doubt not even be considered for ARD. Although, some counties will still allow one to get ARD if one has a preliminary hearing as long as one has a very good reason to have one. But, it would be a rare and a long shot to get ARD, if one had a preliminary.
Community service, fines, and cost associated with ARD are determined by the charge or charges and circumstances of the case.
ARD is not a conviction. ARD simply holds ones charge or charges in limbo until ARD is successfully completed.
Once ARD is successfully completed one can petition the court to expunge their record.
One can go it alone, or the best way is to have an advocate on your side.