DUI Defense Lawyers in Philadelphia, PA
Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (“ARD”) has existed since 1961 when it was initiated to provide law-abiding citizens who may have made an uncharacteristic mistake with a way to avoid trial, to avoid a guilty plea, and to avoid any conviction whatsoever by meeting certain conditions. These conditions often involve community service, attending classes, and paying fines and costs.
The defendant must meet these conditions during a period of court supervision. Those admitted to the program who successfully complete the conditions have their charges dropped and the opportunity to have the arrest expunged or erased from their record. Those who violate the program are dismissed from the program and their cases are brought back for trial.
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Are there Programs for First-Time DUI Charges Besides ARD?
Other diversionary programs exist in certain Pennsylvania counties as well, and operate under names, rules and procedures specific to that county. For example, many counties have an ARD-type diversionary program that is specifically for people who are facing a first DUI charge and meet specific conditions. Philadelphia currently has a new diversionary program for people who are charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana.
Philadelphia also has the Accelerated Misdemeanor Program (AMP) for people who meet certain conditions and are facing certain misdemeanor charges. Some people who enter AMP have the option to have their cases dropped and records expunged while others do not depending on their record and the nature of the case.
Drinking & Driving
The best of these programs, like ARD, when successfully completed result in no conviction, no finding by the court that the defendant did anything wrong, no plea of guilty or no contest, and eventually no criminal record in any available database because they permit or require expungement of all paperwork and electronic data about the case.
Other good, but less desirable ARD programs require some sort of a temporary guilty plea that is later erased upon completion of the program. These programs often do not result in a trial if a defendant fails the program’s requirements-they simply result in conviction based upon the temporary guilty plea being made permanent.
It is essential to note that admission into the ARD Program and other diversionary programs is entirely at the discretion of the local prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania. The characteristics of the cases admitted frequently change, often for political reasons or simply because different prosecutors are making the decisions.
Understanding Your Rights
Neither a judge nor a defense attorney can force a case into ARD against the prosecution’s wishes. Although a defense attorney cannot force a case into ARD, strong and consistent advocacy can sometimes push a DA to admit an otherwise marginal case.
Because admission to diversionary programs can be so valuable, it is paramount that a defendant who might be eligible for ARD or another diversionary program have excellent counsel who knows how to comply with all rules and procedures and can persuasively advocate for a client whose case may be a close call.
Our legal systems are not perfect. In any system, there is always the risk of an unjust result at trial. Trials can also be very stressful and expensive. Therefore, even the innocent have good reason to want ARD in many cases.
Contact the Experienced DUI & ARD Lawyer Lloyd Long
The attorneys at the Law Office of Lloyd Long has had great success for many years in achieving ARD and other diversionary program outcomes in many contexts – DUI’s, Retail Thefts, Public Intoxication, Public Urination, Possession of Marijuana, Disorderly Conduct, Obstruction of the Highway, Domestic Abuse Assaults, Theft, etc.
In addition, Lloyd Long has had excellent success in achieving ARD and other diversionary program outcomes where the charges were much more serious and unusual and where defendants had their futures on the line.
For example, a graduate student suffered a head injury while intoxicated and was accused of Aggravated Assault on two EMT’s and a police officer in three separate criminal cases arising from the same incident. After careful accumulation of evidence, and one rejection from ARD, Lloyd Long succeeded in getting their client admitted to the ARD Program, which was successfully completed.
Our History of Success
In another case, a client was accused of Burglary, Aggravated Assault and Conspiracy after entering the alleged victim’s house and allegedly beating the victim while he was tied to a chair. Careful advocacy persuaded the prosecution that the defendant had been persuaded to go along with another defendant based upon a false story about their purpose and permission to enter the building. ARD was obtained and successfully completed.
In another case, a manager for an NBA player was arrested going through airport security because he had a handgun in his backpack. Federal charges were avoided. The defendant then succeeded in obtaining ARD in state court due to the investigation of available video and government documents showing permission to carry a firearm in another state to establish that the defendant had forgotten the gun was in his backpack when he hurriedly left home on his way to an early flight.
While these results in achieving ARD are extraordinary, they have become ordinary at the law offices of Lloyd Long where unrelenting investigation, preparation and advocacy on behalf of defendants who are seeking ARD is the norm.
Our Philadelphia DUI defense attorneys can help to defend your rights. Get in touch with our team today for a free consultation.