Being caught with an illegal substance in Pennsylvania can cause some serious upheaval in your life. If you have been charged with a felony, it may affect your candidacy for future jobs and even your eligibility to own a firearm.
Do not lose hope if you are facing drug charges. Many people can emerge from these situations and live normal lives if they follow the right steps. First-time charges have the best chance of making it out okay.
How Pennsylvania handles first-time offenders
Whether it is for drug possession, distribution or any nonviolent criminal offense, Pennsylvania offers a program called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition that functions similarly to probation, but, according to the Pennsylvania Office of Victim Services, can result in the dismissal of any charges and even the expungement of your arrest record. If you want to pursue this option, you may have to waive some of your rights in a court of law, but this does not necessarily mean that you need to plead guilty to any of your offenses. Making the best call in how to respond if offered ARD may be easier with the advice of a lawyer.
How does ARD work?
If you accept an ARD deal, you may have to agree to supervision for a maximum period of two years. The court may order you to pay some costs and submit to assessments and rehabilitative programs. You may also be required to complete some community service.
If you can successfully fulfill all of the requirements of ARD, you may petition the court to have your charges dismissed and get the case expunged from your record. If you are charged with a crime during the course of your this, however, your ARD may be revoked.