New Jersey offers a number of programs designed to help certain qualifying criminal defendants avoid a costly and potentially life-altering criminal conviction. These programs are broadly referred to as diversionary programs. If you have been charged with a crime in New Jersey, you should know about all of your legal options, especially those that may result in your charges being dismissed. This article explores a few of New Jersey’s most widely-used diversionary programs, their eligibility requirements, and a few common charges that may be resolved by getting into a program like conditional discharge, Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI), or the veteran’s diversion program. A New Jersey criminal defense attorney at our firm can provide you with particularized guidance about your eligibility based on your criminal history and the facts of your case. Contact our local office in Jersey City at (201) 793-8018 to speak with a lawyer who can help free of charge.
Can I Get a Conditional Discharge?
First-time drug offenders who are facing a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense in a New Jersey municipal court may be eligible for a diversionary program known as the Conditional Discharge Program. Only first-time drug offenders who have not previously taken advantage of a diversionary program and are currently facing disorderly persons charges are eligible for the Conditional Discharge Program. Individuals who take advantage of the Conditional Discharge Program have often been charged with possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana or possession of drug paraphernalia.
If you gain admission into the Conditional Discharge Program, you will be placed on a term of probation, which is typically one to three years. Once you successfully finish the program by completing all required conditions of probation (ie. random drug testing), the charges originally filed against you will be dismissed. This means that you will not have a criminal conviction on your permanent record if you complete the Conditional Discharge Program.
How Do I Get Into the Pretrial Intervention (PTI) Program?
Pre-Trial Intervention (or PTI for short), is a separate diversionary program that is available to certain offenders in New Jersey. Similarly to the Conditional Discharge Program, PTI allows qualifying individuals to walk away from criminal charges without a conviction on their criminal record if they complete a court-ordered term of PTI probation and satisfy all the requirements of that probation.
Two statutes, NJ Court Rule 3:28 and N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12, set forth the requirements for the PTI program. First-time adult offenders who have been charged with third or fourth degree crimes may be eligible for PTI. To qualify for the program, you must not have an existing conviction on your record or have been on parole, probation, or subject to incarceration within the five years prior to your arrest on the charge for which you are seeking PTI. Notably, you may only take advantage of the PTI program once in your life. You do not qualify for the Pre-Trial Intervention Program if you have taken advantage of another diversionary program in your lifetime.
People charged with serious third and fourth degree indictable crimes, who have never been convicted of a crime before and have not used PTI or conditional discharge in the past, are often great candidates for Pre-Trial Intervention. Some of the most charges that may have PTI as an option include:
- Heroin possession
- Possession of cocaine
- Intent to distribute marijuana
- Prescription drug charges; and
- Third or fourth degree theft crimes
If you are seeking admission into PTI, you must apply for the program through the county criminal division office within 28 days of a prosecutor filing charges against you.
Is There a Program for Veterans Charged With Crimes in NJ?
According to the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, certain veterans who are charged with non-violent third and fourth degree indictable crimes, and who suffer from a mental health condition like PTSD, may be eligible for a Veterans Diversion Program. This is a relatively new diversionary program, explained in New Jersey statute N.J.S.A. 2C:43-22. This program typically requires the veteran to submit to a court-ordered, structured, and rehabilitative treatment plan supervised by the court, often provided by the VA. If a veteran completes the terms and conditions of this treatment program, they may be eligible to have the charges that were originally filed against them dismissed. A prosecutor must typically approve a particular veteran’s admission to the Veteran’s Diversion Program.
Contact Local Jersey City Attorneys for Help Getting Into a Program for Your Criminal Case
If you have been arrested in Hudson County or elsewhere in New Jersey and want to know if you can use a diversionary program to get your charges dismissed, contact us today at (201) 793-8018. Our skilled team of criminal defense lawyers has helped countless clients get into conditional discharge, PTI, and other programs to avoid a conviction. From our local offices in Jersey City, we represent clients throughout the area, including in Hoboken, Kearny, Harrison, Bayonne, North Bergen, and Weehawken. Call now to speak with a criminal defense attorney who can tell you more about your likelihood of acceptance into one of these programs based on the particular facts of your case.