Many people who take advantage of our free initial consultation ask, either directly or indirectly, whether it is necessary to have an attorney for a first offense when a “first time offender program” like Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) is offered. In short, it is always best to have an Attorney by your side when you have any Court appearance and a first time offender program is no different.
Initially, it is very important to have an attorney review your matter as a first time offender program may be inappropriate where a valid factual or legal defense exists. Many people who think that they were caught “red handed” may not realize that he government has a heavy burden when seizing a person or property and evidence that may seem incriminating can sometimes be suppressed due to improper government action. An attorney should be able to review the facts and the evidence with you during a free consultation and explain the benefits and disadvantages of proceeding either with a first time offender program like ARD, or defending through pre-trial practice and trial. (more…)