In Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania the ARD program is offered to certain first time DUI offenders that opt to be accepted into the program. The major benefit of ARD is that you or your attorney will be entitled to file an expungement petition once you complete all of the requirements of the program. This will result in your criminal record being expunged and destroyed if the court so orders. Click on the following link Delaware County ARD program to read my prior blog for more information on the benefits of the ARD program.
Moving forward, this blog will take you through the ARD process in Delaware County, PA from start to finish.
1. Post-Arrest: Preliminary Hearing Paperwork will be Mailed to you by the District Court - after you are arrested and charged with a first offense DUI in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, paperwork will be sent to your house from the District Court that retains jurisdiction over you. After you are arrested, the Magisterial District Court will send you two letters: one certified and one by regular first class mail. Both of the letters are duplicates and contain the same information. Enclosed in your letters will be three items. The first is called a "Police Criminal Complaint." This document contains the caption of the case, identifies you as the defendant and designates which crimes you are being charged with along with other information. The second item is called the "Affidavit of Probable Cause." The Affidavit of Probable Cause is a brief recitation of the facts which occurred in your case as written by the police officer. The third item in your letters will be a scheduling notice. The scheduling notice will let you know the time and place of your preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing will be heard before a Magisterial District Judge. The court may also mail you a fingerprint order, ordering you to report to the police department where you were arrested to be fingerprinted, if you were not fingerprinted on the night of the offense.
Please be patient. If you have been arrested for a DUI, these items may take a few weeks to get out to you. I have even seen it take months for clients to get their paperwork. However, if you have been arrested for a DUI in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, rest assured, you will receive these items in the mail. After you have been arrested I recommend that you hire an attorney at your earliest convenience to avoid any complications with the case. Jason R. Antoine, Esquire, Pennsylvania ARD DUI lawyer can be reached for free DUI advice at (610) 299-0295.
2. HIRE AN ATTORNEY - in Delaware County you will not be considered for the ARD program unless you retain an attorney. Even if you have not received your paperwork in the mail from the district court, it is not too early to hire an attorney. You should hire an attorney before you take any action on your case, especially talking to police or friends about your DUI. Your attorney should make the initial determination as to whether you are eligible for the ARD program. Although, most first offense DUI's are eligible for the ARD program some factors may deem your case ineligible such as a prior criminal record, driving on a suspended license, no insurance, no registration or an accident with injuries to the victim. This list is not exhaustive; call my office (610) 299-0295 to determine if you should apply to the program.
If you cannot afford an attorney, contact the Delaware County Office of the Public Defender at (610) 891-4100. For a private attorney, you may call my office for a free consultation at (610) 299-0295. Having an eligible client placed on ARD is one of the least difficult things a trained criminal attorney can do. Therefore, legal fees for ARD are typically affordable for most clients. My office offers free consultations and free advice regarding first offense DUI cases and will try to make the process as fast and painless as possible. Call my office now to schedule a free consultation.
3. Preliminary Hearing - at the preliminary hearing your attorney will "waive" the hearing if you plan on going into the ARD program. Waiving the hearing means that your attorney will NOT cross-examine the police office and you will NOT contest the Commonwealth's evidence for purposes of the preliminary hearing. It is the Commonwealth's burden to establish prima facia evidence that the crime(s) as charged were committed. Prima facia simply means that there must be some evidence on each element of the crime. Waiving the hearing is easy. In Delaware County, your attorney will simply take you before the judge and the attorney or judge will ask you a series of questions such as: Do you understand that you have the right to a hearing?" "Do you understand that you have the right to an attorney?" "Do you understand that you have the right to cross-examine witnesses?" "Do you understand that you it is the Commonwealth's burden to make out a prima facia case for each element of the crime?" Thereafter, the judge will have you sign paperwork stating that you know these rights and agree to give up your right to a hearing. The judge will then give you a piece of paper assigning you an arraignment date which is your next court date in the court of common pleas.
4. Complete Requirements for a Reduction in Community Service Hours - if you complete your CRN evaluation, Alcohol Safe Driving Course and community service hours within 60 days after the completion of the preliminary hearing you can receive a reduction in community service hours. Please see my Delaware County DUI lawyer website for more information on the possible reduction in community service hours.
5. Waiver of Arraignment/ARD Application/Rule 600 Paperwork - at this stage in the process your attorney will have to submit your Waiver of Arraignment form, ARD application and Rule 600 form to the Office of the Court Administrator in the Delaware County Courthouse, Media, Pennsylvania. Delaware County requires that all forms be typed on a typewriter. Some of the forms are carbon copies. These forms must be submitted 14 days prior to arraignment.
a. Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Arraignment Form- this form enters your attorney's appearance on your behalf and serves as a waiver your formal arraignment so that an appearance by you or your attorney is not required.
b. ARD Application - this application asks a series of questions regarding identity, biographical information and prior criminal history so that the District Attorney's Office may determine your eligibility for the ARD program. The ARD application must be signed by you and your attorney and notarized.
c. Rule 600 Waiver - Rule 600 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure states that you must be brought to trial within 365 days from the date on which the criminal complaint is filed excluding certain delays caused by the defense. By signing this form you agree to waive (or give up) your right to a speedy trial for placement on the ARD program. In order to be accepted into ARD you must waive Rule 600. This means that from the time when you sign this form up until your pre-trial conference, this time does not count against the prosecution because they are considering your application for ARD.
If these forms are filled out appropriately by your attorney and submitted in a timely fashion, your attorney will receive notification from the Office of the Court Administrator that the Waiver of Arraignment was accepted and you will be given a delayed pre-trial conference date of approximately six (6) months after your scheduled arraignment date. If you go into ARD, you will NOT have to show up to the pre-trial conference because you will be placed into the ARD program prior to the pre-trial conference at a special hearing before the president judge of the county. However, be sure to put this delayed pre-trial conference date in your calendar because if you are denied ARD, you will have to appear for this pre-trial conference date.
6. Notification of Your or Acceptance or Denial into the ARD Program - you and your attorney will receive a letter from the Delaware County District Attorney's Office indicating whether you are accepted into the program. If you are accepted into ARD, another letter will follow notifying you and your attorney of your ARD hearing date and time.
7. ARD Hearing - ARD hearings are held in Courtroom #1 of the Media, Delaware County Courthouse before President Judge Joseph P. Cronin, Jr. You should bring your Pennsylvania Driver's License with you so that it can be surrendered to the court to start your license suspension. If you are NOT a Pennsylvania driver, your attorney should have you fill out and bring a Penndot form DL-16 Acknowledgement of Suspension form to be submitted to the court to begin your suspension. Your license suspension will begin on the day of the hearing, therefore, you should have someone drive you the day of the ARD hearing. You also must be prepared to pay the costs of the ARD program on the day of the hearing. ARD program costs for a first offense DUI are $1,336.50 and a supervisory fee of $45.00 per month. This fee MUST be paid by CASH, CHECK MONEY ORDER, VISA, or DEBIT CARD on the day of the scheduled ARD hearing. If you cannot afford the full amount of the ARD program costs and prior arrangements are made by your attorney, you may be able to pay a portion of the ARD program costs on the day of the hearing. Also, you may pay the $45.00 supervisory fee up front.
What to Expect at the Hearing - first your attorney should go to the front of the courtroom and obtain your ARD order. This is the order that will be signed by the judge placing you on ARD. It will give specific terms of the program pertaining to you, i.e - number of community service hours, number of months probation, restitution, etc. Your attorney should review this order for any mistakes. Your attorney should also have you fill out a community corrections intake form for you to take with you to adult probation.
When President Judge Cronin takes the bench, you will raise your right hand and be "sworn in" or sworn to tell the truth by the Court. From there, the judge will admit ARD applicants in groups of 12. You will go in front of the court with 11 other applicants and the judge will colloquy you and the other applicants to ensure that you understand the program. From there, the judge will take each case individually. Your attorney will introduce himself/herself to the Court and hand over your license and ARD order to the Court. The judge will then read you the specific terms of the program pertaining to you and ask if you wish to be accepted into the program. After this, you will wait out in the hallway and a court representative will take you down to probation where you will register and pay your ARD fees to court financial.
8. ARD Supervision - the following are the typical requirements to complete the ARD program in Delaware County. Please note that other terms or conditions may be ordered by the court and must be complied with.
a. CRN Evaluation - You may schedule your CRN evaluation by calling (610) 891-4571. The CRN evaluation performed by Diagnostic Services which is located in the basement of the Delaware County Courthouse at 201 West Front Street, Media, PA 19063. This interview will take approximately a half hour and questions will be asked regarding your social, work and substance and/or alcohol abuse history. You do not need to be accompanied by an attorney at this interview.
b. Alcohol Safe Driving School - you may schedule your Alcohol Safe Driving class by calling (610) 237-8630. More information about the date/time/location/cost of the courses can be found on the Delaware County Emergency Service Training Center website.
c. Community Service - to schedule your community service contact Walter R. Omlar, Jr. at (610) 891-4461. Your community service can be performed in two locations: Media or Sharon, Hill. However, on the day of your community service a van may pick you up and take you anywhere in the county to perform your work hours. If you miss your scheduled date, there will be an automatic 8 hour penalty. Delaware County will NOT allow you to transfer your community service to neighboring counties. Mr. Omlar reserves the right to hold your community service to another date if you have any special skills such as painting or welding.
d. Monitor Connect - once placed on ARD probation, you will not have to report to a probation officer in person. You will have to logon to the monitor connect system once a month. Logon to www.monitorconnect.com for more information on the system. You will have to pay $7.00 per month to use this system.
9. Denial - what if you are denied to the program? If the event you are denied, you will have to appear for your delayed pre-trial conference and the case will proceed in the Court of Common Pleas. However, your attorney should write a letter to the trial attorney handling your case asking for reconsideration of your placement into the program.
Jason R. Antoine, Esquire is a former Assistant District Attorney and a former DUI prosecutor. Contact his office at (610) 299-0295 for questions about the Delaware County ARD DUI program.