Facing your first criminal charges can be intimidating, but in many non-violent cases there is an option that will help you protect yourself and your criminal record. If you meet Connecticut’s Accelerated Rehabilitation requirements, you may be able to get your case dismissed without ever going to trial.
Connecticut’s Accelerated Pretrial Rehabilitation Program (AR) is a diversionary program that allows veterans and first-time criminal defendants charged with certain crimes to get those charges dismissed. Generally, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. However, in some cases where the first offense was minor, defendants may be able to apply again after 10 years. To take advantage of the AR program, you and your criminal defense attorney will need to convince the court that you are not going to commit more crimes in the future.
Participating in an Accelerated Rehabilitation Program is a way to avoid having a criminal conviction on your record. If the court grants your application to participate in the AR program, your record will be sealed. If you successfully complete the program, the charges against you will be dismissed without any conviction being entered. The public record of the charges are permanently sealed. It won’t be visible to employers, landlords, or others accessing your criminal history for a background check.
Because AR doesn’t result in a conviction, it is often a good outcome for defendants who meet Connecticut’s Accelerated Rehabilitation requirements. It is important to note that applying for a diversionary program like AR is not an admission of guilt. That means that your application can’t be used to prove a civil case against you related to the same incident (such as when drunk driving results in a personal injury auto accident lawsuit). However, because you generally can only use the program once, if your criminal defense attorney believes you have a strong defense to the charges against you, he or she may recommend against filing an application even if you are eligible.
Determining whether you are eligible for accelerated rehabilitation under CT law depends on what you were charged with and your history with the court. You must not have any prior misdemeanor or felony conviction on your criminal history (in Connecticut or any other state). This includes some other diversionary programs that, unlike AR, do result in conviction. Next, the crime you are charged with can’t fall into an excluded category:
Anyone who completes an AR application must pay a $35 application fee whether or not the application is granted (unless the fee is waived because the defendant is indigent or unable to pay). In addition to the technical requirements, as a criminal defendant, participating in an Accelerated Rehabilitation program means you need to give up your right to a speedy trial and agree to “toll the statute of limitations” on the charges. This means that if you fail to complete the AR program, the prosecutor can file a new criminal complaint and start your case over again.
If the judge in your criminal case grants your application, he or she will set a list of conditions that you will have to follow to complete the AR program. Many of these are similar to the conditions of probation, and could include:
Your AR order will then release you to the supervision of the Court Support Services Division (CSSD) for a period of up to 2 years. You may or may not need to regularly report to a probation order, depending on the conditions set by the court.
The AR order’s conditions are specific to each defendant and each case, so make sure you read and follow the Accelerated Rehabilitation order carefully. If you aren’t sure what your AR requirements are, be sure to talk to your criminal defense attorney or CSSD officer before doing something that could violate the order.
In most cases, it is up to you to apply for and prove your eligibility for Connecticut’s Accelerated Rehabilitation program. If your AR application is denied, you won’t get another chance to avoid trial. It is essential that you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to get the court’s approval the first time.
At the Lebedevitch Law Firm in Fairfield, Connecticut, we can help you use the AR diversion program to avoid a criminal conviction and get your case dismissed. If you are facing criminal charges we will review your case and your background to see if you qualify and build the case for why the court should accept you into the program. Contact us for a free consultation.