If you are a drug offender in Pennsylvania and it is your first offense, then you might be able to avoid a criminal conviction. It’s part of a program that the state runs called ARD, or Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. This program is designed to make life easier for first-time offenders and try to keep them away from the justice system, saving time, money, and resources.
How does the ARD work?
There are many programs like PA’s ARD. It is widely recognized that many first-time drug offenders are not serious criminals and their likelihood of offending again is low. However, dealing with drug charges can be a major problem– it is expensive, takes a lot of time, and is emotionally draining for the defendant. It’s also a big investment of time and attention by the law enforcement side.
As a result, people who have not been in ARD before and who have no prior criminal charges can apply for a process in which instead of being charged, they go on probation, pay fines, and do some community service. This is a better outcome than charges, and when they finish the program, people in it can apply to have their charges expunged from their record. The whole program is run by the District Attorney’s office.
For people who are likely never to re-offend, ARD is a great way to avoid getting pulled into a lengthy process, spending a lot of money, and facing prison time. It also reduces caseloads for the police and the prosecutors who can then devote their time to more serious issues and major offenses.