Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (A.R.D.)
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition ("A.R.D.") is a pre-trial intervention program for first time non-violent offenders. A.R.D. is not a conviction and does not require a defendant to serve mandatory jail sentences associated with certain convictions.
In order to be eligible for A.R.D., you must be a first time offender. You are not a first time offender if you have ever been convicted of any misdemeanor or felony crimes in this or any other state or jurisdiction (including military tribunals) or if you have ever been placed on A.R.D or its equivalent in this or any other state or jurisdiction. Charges such as Possession of a Controlled Substance, Theft, Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance ("D.U.I.") are typically appropriate for the A.R.D. program. The A.R.D. Application outlines basic eligibility requirements for the Bucks County A.R.D. program; however, a recommendation for placement into the A.R.D. program is at the sole discretion of the Bucks County District Attorney's Office.
If you are accepted into the A.R.D. program and fail to comply with any of your A.R.D. agreement conditions or are arrested for or convicted of a new offense, you will be removed from the A.R.D. program and the Bucks County District Attorney's Office will file a praecipe to have your case listed for trial on the original charges.
If you are accepted into the A.R.D. program for an offense of D.U.I., under Section 3802 of Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code the A.R.D. disposition will be considered a prior conviction for sentencing purposes, and will increase the mandatory sentence for each subsequent D.U.I. offenses within the next ten years from the date of the A.R.D. agreement.
If you would like to apply for the first-time offender A.R.D. program, you must:
- Waive your preliminary hearing (PDF)
- Submit a completed ARD Application (PDF) to the assigned Magisterial District Court. Completa una ARD Aplicación en Español (PDF) y preséntela al Tribunal Magisterial de Distrito asignado.
- Submit a completed ARD Information Form (PDF) with your A.R.D. Application to the assigned Magisterial District Court
If your application for A.R.D. has been rejected, and you wish to seek reconsideration of your application by the District Attorney's Office, the reconsideration request must be filed in writing and mailed or delivered to the District Attorney's Office prior to your listed trial date. Your request will be reviewed by the assigned Assistant District Attorney when that case is listed for trial. The District Attorney's Office will not respond to any reconsideration request made by phone, phone message, or email.
Both the A.R.D. Application and the Waiver form for the Preliminary Hearing can be found on this website and printed out and taken to the assigned Magisterial District Court on or before your scheduled Preliminary Hearing.
Individuals accepted into the A.R.D. Program are required to complete at least 10 hours of community service. Community service must be verified by the Bucks County Adult Probation and Parole Department. It is the responsibility of the A.R.D. participant to submit a completion letter to the Bucks County Adult Probation Department from the agency's community service program director indicating your community service has been completed. Under no circumstances will online community service be accepted.
A.R.D. Costs Policy
In order to be placed on ARD:
- Those defendants with privately retained counsel must pay $1,100 toward their costs on the date they are placed on ARD
- Defendants with public defender representation and those who are pro se must pay $550 on DUI cases $350 on non DUI cases
These cost assessments do not reflect the total amount of costs owed by defendants placed into the ARD program, rather just the fee to be placed into the ARD program.
Clerk of Courts will thereafter advise all defendants placed on ARD what their court costs balance is, to be paid in full within eleven (11) months of being placed into the ARD program.
All defendants (who are not declared indigent by the court) will pay the same amount of costs on like cases regardless of who represented them at the time of ARD placement.
This policy has been in effect since April of this year. Most defense attorneys have followed this policy to the letter since the change in policy went into effect. The policy was changed in order to benefit all ARD defendants so that they no longer have to pay costs in their entirety before being placed in the ARD program. It is expected that all attorneys practicing in this county properly explain this policy to their clients when contemplating ARD for their clients.
Effective April 1, 2013: Upon successful completion of your A.R.D. agreement, the Court will automatically dismiss the charges against you and your criminal record will be expunged pursuant to Rules 319 and 320 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure.
If you were granted A.R.D between June 1, 2011 and March 28, 2013; your case will not be automatically expunged. You may petition the courts for Expungement if you have successfully completed all of you A.R.D requirements. For your convenience a sample Motion for Dismissal and Expungement (A.R.D.) form (PDF) is provided on this website.
- File the original Motion for Dismissal and Expungement (A.R.D.) with the Clerk of Courts Office. There is a filing fee of $247.
- File a copy of the Motion with the District Attorney's office. You must make service to the District Attorney.
- Retain a copy for your records.
The following is for informational purposes only:
Expungement is the process to "remove from general review" the records pertaining to an arrest, citation, or adjudication of summary or criminal charges. Not all criminal records are eligible for Expungement. The records may not completely "disappear." Records may still be available to law enforcement as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and may still be considered a prior conviction in some circumstances. It should be noted that an Expungement will not remove information that was previously available on the internet or through other media sources. Expungement is not automatic for A.R.D cases between June 1, 2011 and March 28, 2013. The court may choose not to grant the request. To determine if your criminal records fall within the categories of records eligible to be expunged and/or if the self help expungement forms are appropriate for you, consult an attorney.
- In Bucks County, all expugnable cases, including ARD sentences granted between June 1, 2011 and March 28, 2013, must be expunged by petition of the defendant.
- In Bucks County, all ARD cases sentenced after April 1, 2013 will be automatically expunged if the ARD program is completed, all supervision is ended and all cost and fines are paid.
- Please consult an attorney if you have additional questions.
The forms and instructions that are available from this website are not substitute for professional legal advice. Court employees cannot give you legal advice or help you fill out /complete the forms. It is your responsibility to read and complete the forms and to take required steps to file and serve the documents. If you decide to use these forms in an actual action, be prepared to spend appropriate time gathering information, completing forms and following the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Local Rules of Court. Neither the Office of the District Attorney or the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas will assume any responsibility for the use of these forms and accepts no liability for actions taken by using these documents, including reliance on the instructions and/or contents. To obtain legal advice and to insure the proper use of this material, you should contact a lawyer.
If you want to obtain the service of an attorney, but do not know whom to contact, you should visit the Bucks County Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service website.
Any questions regarding the Bucks County A.R.D. program should be directed to the Bucks County District Attorney's Office A.R.D. unit at via email or 215-348-6660.