First, we need to determine if the crime you've been charged with qualifies for ARD. This differs from county to county in Pennsylvania. DUI, Shoplifting, Theft, and most non-violent crimes usually qualify.
Check Prior Record
ARD is meant for people who have no prior record. There are some exceptions to this, but they vary county to county. If you've never been charged or convicted with a crime before, you should qualify. You could also qualify if you've only had minor offenses in the past, or received ARD for an offense more than 10 years ago.
Attend Preliminary Hearing & Apply for ARD
Once we determine that you and the offense qualify for ARD, we need to attend your preliminary hearing and then later apply for ARD at the appropriate time. The process for approval can take a couple months after your preliminary hearing.
Approval and ARD Hearing
If the District Attorney's Office approves your application for ARD, you will then be set for a Hearing before a Judge. At the hearing, we will put forward all of the reasons why you should be admitted to ARD and why you may not need a lengthy term on the program. The Judge will then place you on ARD & tell you for how long and what conditions you may have to abide by.
If the DA's Office does not approve your application, you may be able to appeal that decision to a Judge, but absent a successful appeal, you will not be entered into the ARD program. An experienced attorney can help make sure the DA's Office approves your application.
Erasing Your Arrest Record
After you successfully complete the ARD program, your arrest record can be erased. This process is called Expungement. In most cases, this process should be automatic, but sometimes there can be problems that need to be sorted out. With your record expunged, it will appear to the general public as though you never got in trouble. However, the Courts & Law Enforcement will still be able to see your record & it will affect you if you ever get charged with another criminal offense.
If you do not make sure your record gets expunged, future employers, schools, creditors, etc. could see the criminal charges on your record. So it is very important that you make sure that your record really does get expunged once you finish the ARD program.