As you may already know, in Pennsylvania, the ARD program is a pre-trial diversionary program designed so that first time offenders or low level offenders that finish the program, leave with no criminal record. I think the program is great. I know from experience that a criminal record will haunt a person for the rest of their life. A criminal record will inhibit the person from becoming a productive member of society and finding lawful employment. However, I see certain low level offenders being denied the program due to mainly political agendas. I think this is unjust and unfair.
I will give you an example. I represented a lady in Chester County that was charged with Furnishing Alcohol to Minors. In short, she had a party at her house and bought beer for her 16 year old son and his friends. She made sure that her son and his friends were staying the night and not driving. The party ended up getting out of hand. The boys had girls over and they snuck hard alcohol into the party. One of the girl's parents called police and my client got busted. She had an impeccable record. She was in her 50's, had no prior criminal history, possessed an advanced degree, managed a large company, and even spent weekends volunteering her time for Chester County. I explained all of this to the District Attorney's Office but she was nonetheless denied the ARD program because minors were involved in the crime. DA's are elected officials and play it extra safe with any case involving minors. Obviously, I think this can be a good thing, but not for situations like this. Everyone has a lapse in judgment from time to time and 16 year old kids are going to drink beer regardless of what parents do.