Can I get ARD in PA, if I had ARD in NJ?

Q: I was charged with possession of a small amount of weed in my car. My friends and I decided to get out the car to go to a gas station and someone had called the police because my friend was intoxicated. We were not in the car but a light was on in the car and police officer told me to shut it off I opened the door and police officer smelled the weed in the car. I told them it was mine even though it wasn’t to get the people I was with off the hook. I have a previous DUI in NJ where I go to college but none in PA. I took some DUI classes in NJ and paid the fines. Now I have a possession of marijuana charge in PA. It is my first and I want to get ARD program for it? Also, since we were not driving nor in the car, can my license be taken away? I am a college student and I work so I need to get back and forth. What should I do?

A: You really need to review this with a Criminal Defense Attorney in your area. You may have enough of an illegal search defense to push the police into turning this into something that does not result in a criminal conviction if just outright asking them to cut you a break doesn’t work. You may not be able to get ARD as you have had it once in NJ and you cannot get ARD for a drug case in PA. If you cannot get it withdrawn at the Preliminary Hearing, or turned into a summary offense like Disorderly Conduct, your next option would be to receive Probation Without Verdict (PWV) at the trial level which will not result in a conviction. However, be aware that some county DA’s will not offer PWV if you have had a prior ARD for DUI. Your goal is to get out of this without a record which is more difficult since it is your second time at the plate. If you are offered to plead to a Disorderly Conduct summary offense at the Preliminary Hearing. However, a summary conviction will stay on your record 5 years before you can expunge it, assuming you can stay out of trouble. Again, your chances of minimizing your damage will be better with an attorney.

If you feel like this issue relates to you, or a problem that you are experiencing, please contact me so that we can discuss your situation.