Recently in ARD Category

October 11, 2011

Changes Made to the Chester County DUI ARD Program

Starting on October 1, 2011, the Chester County Council on Addictive Diseases (COAD) will no longer be participating in the Chester County DUI ARD program. The Chester County Adult Probation and Parole Department will be taking over these duties. The probation department will provide Alcohol Highway Safety School (AHSS), Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluations and referrals for drug and alcohol evaluations to offenders.

I always recommend to my clients that they attend their CRN evaluation and AHSS in advance of their ARD court date because Chester County will waive the requirement that you perform 50 hours community service if these tasks are performed within 60 days of the ARD hearing date. My advice is to get these items completed as soon as possible unless you or your attorney have reason to believe your ARD application will be denied. Performing 50 hours of community service is hard to do on top of all the rigors of daily life.

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April 27, 2011

First Offense DUI in Chester County, Pennsylvania? When You Complete ARD You May Have Summary Offense(s) on Your Record

The Pennsylvania ARD program is a good thing for first time offenders. It is especially good for first time DUI offenders in Pennsylvania. It gives citizens who had their first encounter with the criminal justice system a second chance. If you complete the ARD program you will have the charges against you dismissed. You may hire an attorney to expunge your ARD record at the end of the case. Although expungement will cost you more in legal fees, the good news is at the end of the day your criminal record will be clean. If you are a first time offender of any criminal offense, the most important thing for you to do is to protect your record. A criminal record can have devastating consequences on your life. It will have a negative affect on many employment opportunities, especially in this economic climate. Also, if you have kids in the Pennsylvania public school system, having a criminal background will affect what degree of participation you will have with your child's extracurricular activities at school. Pennsylvania is very strict with background checks on parents. Any criminal record may disqualify you as a parent from participating in your child's school activities. If you are a first time DUI offender, complete the ARD program, and have your charges expunged, you will not have a criminal record and your life will not be affected. However, the policy of the Chester County District Attorney's Office is that if you are charged with summary offense(s) and accepted into the ARD program, you may be forced to plead guilty to non-vehicle code or vehicle code summary offenses at your ARD hearing. This policy is contrary to most counties. In most counties, once you are in the ARD program all of the charges, including summaries, will be dismissed once you complete the ARD program.

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April 21, 2011

To Expunge or Not to Expunge?: The Failure of Pennsylvania Courts to Expunge Your DUI ARD Arrest Record

Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 320 is entitled Expungement Upon Successful Completion of ARD Program. This rule is applicable when you successfully complete the ARD program whether it be for a DUI or other charge(s). Rule 320 states "when the judge orders the dismissal of the charges against the defendant, the judge shall also order the expungement of the defendant's arrest record...." This means that your criminal record should be automatically expunged when you complete the ARD program. You shouldn't be forced to pay an attorney to file an expungement petition on your behalf, you shouldn't be forced to pay court costs for filing fees and certified copies, and you shouldn't be forced to wait months before your record is clean. The reality is that you will be forced to do all of the above. Most counties do not follow Rule 320. Your ARD record will NOT be expunged when you successfully complete the ARD program in the counties that I practice law. You will still have a criminal record when you are done the ARD program. When an employer or other government agency performs a background check, the background check will list your charges with the notation "ARD" next to them. Even though ARD is technically not a criminal conviction, this may still have negative consequences for you and your job search. If you want a clean record you will need to hire an attorney to file an expungement petition. You will have to wait months for the process to be completed. The judge must sign off on your petition and order your record expunged. To complicate matters further, the expungement rules have recently changed. You must attach a Pennsylvania state background check to your expungement petition. You must order this background check from the Pennsylvania State Police. This will take an additional 4 weeks.

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August 30, 2010

Big Difference between Delaware County and Chester County ARD Program

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.

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