What’s the Difference Between Conditional Discharge and Pre-Trial Intervention in New Jersey?


Conditional Discharge and Pre-trial Intervention (PTI) are two different types of diversionary programs available in New Jersey. The two programs differ in their requirements for eligibility, but function very similarly. If you’ve been charged with a crime in Middlesex County or anywhere else in New Jersey, these programs can be very valuable options, but are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. You can only participate in the conditional discharge or PTI program once in your life, meaning you cannot use both to avoid a criminal record and the penalties associated with your criminal charges.

I Was Charged With a Disorderly Persons Marijuana Offense. Am I Eligible for Conditional Discharge or Pre-trial Intervention?

Your eligibility for conditional discharge or pre-trial intervention depends on multiple factors, beginning with what offense you have been charged with. A “municipal” marijuana charge, or a charge for possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana, is a disorderly persons offense. Only the conditional discharge program is available for individuals charged with first-time disorderly persons offenses. These charges most commonly include possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of 50 grams or less or marijuana, both of which can be conditionally discharged one time if they arise from the same incident.

Are There Any Other Requirements for Participating in Conditional Discharge?

If you have been convicted of a drug offense in any other state, you are not eligible for conditional discharge in New Jersey. You will also not be granted conditional discharge if the court determines that you are a danger to the community or if you have ever participated in conditional discharge, conditional dismissal, or PTI before.

To apply for conditional discharge, you must pay a $75 application fee. The program usually involves a probation period of six months to one year, during which you must adhere to the terms and conditions set in your case. These conditions may include, but are not limited to, not committing any other offenses, paying program fees—which generally amount to approximately $800, regular reporting to a probation officer, mandatory participation in a drug treatment program, maintaining employment or school enrollment, and passing random drug testing.

If you successfully complete the conditional discharge program, your charges will be dismissed at the end of your probationary period. However, if you violate the terms and conditions of your discharge, the original charges may be reinstated.

I Was Arrested for an Indictable Drug Crime. Can I Use PTI or Conditional Discharge?

Possession of over 50 grams of marijuana, with or without intent to distribute, is an indictable offense in New Jersey.  This charge and other felony drug charges such as heroin possessionpossession of cocaine, and prescription drug possession, are not eligible for conditional discharge, which is only available for disorderly persons drug offenses. However, you may be able to apply for PTI.

PTI is a diversionary program for individuals charged with indictable offenses in New Jersey, which are essentially the same as felonies in other states. An indictable offense is punishable by a term of incarceration in state prison. To participate in PTI, you must be a New Jersey resident, first time offender (you cannot have a criminal record in New Jersey or any other state), and you may not have previously participated in PTI or received a conditional discharge for any offense.

If you are accepted into PTI, you will have a period of probation from one to three years. Similar to the conditional discharge program, you must abide by specific conditions to successfully complete the program. These conditions could include not driving, not committing any other offenses, and participating in drug rehabilitation. If you complete all the requirements of PTI, the charges against you will be dismissed.

PTI & Conditional Discharge Lawyers Serving all of Middlesex County NJ

Conditional discharge and PTI are two valuable options available to criminal defendants in New Jersey, if you meet the programs’ criteria for participation. The experienced Middlesex County criminal defense lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law are ready to help you determine your eligibility for a diversionary program, and to understand and consider your best course of action. Our attorneys have assisted numerous clients throughout Middlesex County with admission into PTI and conditional discharge to avoid jail and criminal record. If your charges stem from an arrest in Edison, New Brunswick, Piscataway, Woodbridge, East Brunswick, Monroe Township, or surrounding areas, call (732)-659-9600 for a free consultation today.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.