Pre-Trial Intervention in New Jersey
WHAT IS PRE-TRIAL INTERVENTION (PTI)
Pre-Trial Intervention, which is commonly referred to as “PTI” is a diversionary program that is available at the Superior Court level for defendants charged with indictable offenses such as Heroin Possession, Theft, Forgery, Terroristic Threats, Prescription Fraud, Shoplifting, Credit Card Fraud, and Marijuana Distribution. The PTI program is run through the County Prosecutor’s Office who uses it as a way to divert cases they may not have a serious interest in prosecuting. As a general rule of thumb, this means first-time offenders who are not charged with a crime that carries a presumption of incarceration upon conviction. Moreover, defendants charged with certain crimes such as first and second degree offenses, and serious charges such as Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, and Robbery are normally not eligible for Pre-Trial Intervention but exceptions are often made depending on the circumstances. An experienced criminal attorney can often challenge the weaknesses of the state’s case to negotiate a waiver into PTI for a charge that normally may be not be allowed. The overall goal of the PTI program is to provide early rehabilitative intervention for defendants who may be otherwise good people but have made a bad decision and that it shouldn’t haunt them for the rest of their lives. Therefore, the PTI office puts a big emphasis on examining the cultural, social and economic conditions that may have resulted in the defendant’s decision to commit an offense and then try to fix the problem. That is why probation department handling PTI cases focuses on closely monitoring defendants, the perform of community service, and reinforced counseling to help curb and solve the personal problems that lead to the commission of the crime to ensure future deterrence from criminal involvement.
THE PTI PROCESS IN NEW JERSEY
We have provided you with a brief synopsis of the Pre-Trial Intervention program from start to finish, to give a simple explanation of how the PTI process works and to dispel any myths or misconceptions. First, and most obviously, a defendant has to file an application for the Pre-Trial Intervention program. It is important to note that any defendant can file an application for PTI even if they are charged with a crime that normally may not be eligible. After you file your application you will be scheduled for an appointment where you will be interviewed by a Probation Officer or PTI Investigator. Once the interview is completed the probation department will run a background check as part of the investigation to verify the information they have been provided. Moreover, if probation finds that you may suffer from substance abuse or a potential psychological problem based on your interview, background and the current charges, they will make a note that a substance and or psychological evaluation is needed. A PTI application can easily take up to four to six weeks to process depending on how backed up the court is and the details of your particular case. Upon completion, a report will be generated based on a totality of information gathered from any correspondence, your interview, and substance abuse evaluation if needed. To be admitted, the application must be completed and fully reviewed by the PTI Supervisor, the County Prosecutor and the Judge for their acceptance. Once you area admitted into PTI, you must first be seen by your assigned Probation Officer. Moreover, your probation officer will have full discretion and monitoring over your requirements such as urine testing, community service, and payment of fines as well as any potential violations. If you have any problems with meeting any of your requirements, you must address your Probation Officer. Finally, if you fail to meet the requirements of the program then your PTI will ultimately be terminated and your indictable charges will be re-opened before the court.