Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition, or otherwise known as ARD, is available to first-time offenders for various crimes. The most usage is under the driving while intoxicated laws and sometimes in theft offenses, but never used in crimes which involve personal injury or assault. After criminal proceedings have been instituted, a case can be considered for ARD. When an ARD application is filed, the District Attorney shall advise the Defendant or his attorney of the Commonwealth’s intention to present the case to the appropriate Judge. Therefore, the District Attorney will accept an applicant’s motion for ARD and a hearing will be scheduled in open Court in the presence of the Defendant, the Defendant’s attorney, attorney for the Commonwealth and any victims. A hearing shall be held to determine whether the Defendant understands that acceptance into and satisfactory completion of the ARD program offers the Defendant an opportunity to earn a dismissal of the pending charges. Should the Defendant fail to complete the program, the Defendant waives the appropriate statute of limitations and the right to a speedy trial. A Judge, upon hearing the facts of the case as presented by the District Attorney and by the Defendant’s attorney, will accept the Defendant if he believes they warrant acceptance. The Judge will order the Court stenographer to re-open the record and shall state in open Court the conditions of the program. If the Judge does not accept the case for ARD, the Judge shall order the case to proceed to trial. What is most important is that no statement made at this time by the Defendant shall be used against the Defendant for any purpose in any criminal proceeding.
In the case which a summary offense has been joined with a misdemeanor or felony charge that have been disposed of by acceptance into an ARD program, if the summary offense has not been disposed of prior to the ARD hearing, the trial Judge may not remand the summary offense to the Magistrate for distribution but must dispose of the summary offense at the hearing. Usually, we include all the charges whether felony, misdemeanor or lesser included summary offenses in the application for ARD just to be sure all charges will be disposed of upon successful completion of the ARD program.