What is the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program?

The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) is a pre-trial intervention program designed for first-time non-violent offenders. The program isn’t a conviction and doesn’t make it a requirement to serve mandatory jail sentences imposed for certain convictions. Once you complete the program, the prosecutor can dismiss the case, and you can expunge the record.

However, even after expunging the record, law enforcement officers and state licensing agencies such as the medical board may still access it. Additionally, if your ARD relates to a DUI, the offense will stay on your criminal record for at least ten years. Consult with lawyers from a reputable law firm in Philadelphia to help you weigh your ARD options.

The program aims to enhance the prompt disposition of your charges, removing the need for costly and time-consuming trials and other court proceedings. It targets offenders willing to undergo treatment and rehabilitation to remove their cases from the criminal justice system effectively. Overall, ARD frees resources for use elsewhere.

What are the Components of the ARD Program?

The ARD chief supervises the ARD program and reviews criminal cases for eligibility. The program is unique and approved by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Experienced criminal defense and injury lawyers in Philadelphia provide an overview of the program’s requirements:


If you wish to participate in the ARD program, you must be a first-time offender. You’re not a first-time offender if you have prior misdemeanor or felony convictions in Philadelphia or any other jurisdiction.

You could apply for the program if facing charges such as:

  • Theft
  • Possession of a Controlled Substance
  • Driving under the influence

You cannot be enrolled into the ARD program if facing charges for:

  • Crimes involving firearms
  • Sexual offenses
  • Drug crimes
  • Violence
  • Offenses against children or the elderly
  • Crimes involving a breach of public trust

Even if you meet the eligibility criteria for enrolling in the program, the recommendation for placement depends on the final decision by the District Attorney’s office. Having skilled criminal defense and injury attorneys in Philadelphia represent you in your case can enhance your chances of being accepted into the program. They know how the system works and can fight for a favorable outcome.


If you wish to be considered for admission into the ARD program, you must complete and submit a written application to the District Attorney’s office soon after the preliminary hearing. Consult with experienced Philadelphia criminal defense and injury attorneys for legal guidance.

They can assess your case to determine if you are eligible for ARD in the county where you face charges. The criteria for admission are not explicitly spelled out under the law, so each District Attorney’s office could approach ARD a little differently in determining your eligibility. Lawyers who understand the practices and requirements of your county could be valuable to your case.

Conditions for the ARD Program

The court imposes some conditions once you enroll in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. If you don’t agree to the terms, you will be denied an opportunity, and your case will proceed to court, where you will enter a negotiated plea or have a trial.

Some conditions for the program are mandatory in all cases, while others are specific depending on the facts of your case. They include:

  • No new violations of the law
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School for DUI cases
  • Community service
  • Drug and Alcohol Evaluation and follow-up treatment, if ordered
  • Attend MADD Victim Impact Panel for DUI cases.

The program can run for anywhere between 6 and 24 months for non-DUI cases. For DUI cases, the length is usually 12 months. Upon completion, your case will be eligible for expungement.

Consequences of Violating the Terms of ARD

If you violate the terms of ARD, the consequences depend on the specific violation. For example, failure to complete your community service or pay your fines in time could cause your attorney to request an extension of the term to allow you time to meet the requirements. Such an extension comes with additional supervision fees.

In worst-case scenarios, the District Attorney can revoke your participation in the program. You will be discharged from the program immediately if you get new criminal charges. You can enter a negotiated plea agreement or go to trial. Philadelphia criminal defense and injury lawyers can guide you through the journey to ensure you complete the program successfully.

What Are the Benefits of the Philadelphia ARD Program?

When criminal defense attorneys recommend the ARD program, they do so because a defendant can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Avoidance of jail time
  • Do away with costly and time-consuming legal proceedings
  • Avoid being labeled a convict
  • Avoid losing a driver’s license for a long time
  • Enable you to expunge your criminal record and answer “no” on job applications if asked if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime.

Your criminal defense attorneys can explain each of these benefits in detail to enable you to make an informed decision on whether to enroll in the program. On the downside, the ARD program will count against you as a conviction if you’re arrested and convicted of a crime later.

A Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer Helping You Understand Accelerate Rehabilitative Disposition

The ARD program is designed to help first-time non-violent offenders navigate the criminal justice system by reducing the time they spend on the case and also provides other benefits. However, just because you qualify for the program doesn’t mean you should automatically apply. Consult expensively with lawyers from a reputable law firm in Philadelphia to weigh your options.

The Liberty Law Team has knowledgeable lawyers who can evaluate your case and help you determine eligibility for ARD. More importantly, we can provide legal counsel to ensure you complete the program successfully. Feel free to contact us if you have concerns or are worried about any part of the process. Call us at 215-826-3314 to schedule a consultation.