Conditional Discharge Attorney in Ocean County
Local Point Pleasant Lawyer for Conditional Discharge
If you or a loved one has been summoned to municipal court for a disorderly persons offense in Ocean County, you could be eligible for a program that ultimately offers you a one time dismissal. A “conditional discharge” is only offered in municipal court and is a way to have your drug charges dropped by diverting the case from the regular trial track. Hence, these options are typically referred to as “diversionary” programs. If you think you may be eligible for conditional discharge or have questions that you need answers to, contact our experienced staff at William Proetta Criminal Law for a free consultation. Our Ocean NJ criminal defense attorneys have been helping clients to gain admission into Pre-Trial Intervention, Drug Court, conditional dismissal, and condition discharge programs for many years. Whether you are in need of the most comprehensive defense approach or you want to use your program eligibility, we can assess the situation and work toward the best possible result in your case. We often defend clients charged with shoplifting, marijuana possession, drug paraphernalia, simple assault, and many other crimes in the Jersey Shore area. Take advantage of our knowledge and experience handling cases in Brick Twp., Manchester, Toms River, Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, Jackson, and Lacey. Just call (848)-238-2100 or contact us online for further discussion of your charge and alternatives.
What is Conditional Discharge in NJ and How does it Work?
An individual 18 or older who is charged with a disorderly persons offense, will receive a summons to attend the municipal court in the town in which the offense allegedly occurred. This is the general rule, provided you are not also charged with a felony crime in the same matter. Once you’re in municipal court, your attorney has an opportunity to meet with the prosecutor to discuss the case. Often, this discussion takes place after your discovery and arrest records have been received and reviewed by a lawyer at our firm. If appropriate, we may request that you be enrolled in the conditional discharge program. In accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1, not everyone is entitled to take advantage of such programs and obtain a dismissal. Similarly, not all disorderly persons offenses are subject to dismissal.
A conditional discharge requires you to abide by certain terms during a probationary period set forth by the court. The term of probation is from 1 to 3 years and generally requires you to refrain from criminal activity, avoid illegal substances, pass all drug tests, and meet with probation as directed. These fundamental terms can be supplemented with other requirements in certain instances, as the law authorizes imposition of any other condition that the court or probation deems necessary. During the probationary period, the continued prosecution against you is postponed or set aside to allow time for you to fulfill your obligations. After you have successfully completed the terms of conditional discharge, the charges will be dismissed. Remember though, before you can ever obtain a dismissal, you must qualify for the program.
How do I qualify for a conditional discharge in New Jersey?
Not everyone who attends municipal court will be entitled to a dismissal via conditional discharge. The rules governing admission set forth criteria that must be met prior to gaining admission. For instance, the charges for which you enter into the program can only be for drugs or drug-related crimes. Possession of paraphernalia, less than 50 grams of marijuana, being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, failure to turn over CDS to police, and other misdemeanor drug crimes can be dismissed through the program. Of note, other municipal offenses such as simple assault, disorderly conduct, and harassment are not drug crimes and thus do not entitle you to entry. Nevertheless, a knowledgeable attorney may be able to reach a dismissal through carry order, agreement to attend anger management, no contact order, or other options. For this reason, we urge you to talk over your unique circumstances with a criminal lawyer at our office before deciding which way to go with your case.
Another bar to admission into conditional discharge is a prior drug conviction for a disorderly persons offense, petty disorderly offense, or indictable crime. This program is only available to first-time drug offenders and those who are considered “repeat offenders” are deemed ineligible. This includes any similar drug offenses that you may have plead to or been convicted of in any other state or jurisdiction. Lastly, those who previously received a discharge or similar diversionary program would not be eligible, as it is for those with no prior criminal history.
It must be noted that for some people, the court could require you to enter a guilty plea prior to being admitted to the program. However, a judgement of conviction establishing your guilt will not be finalized or entered, as the court will give you adequate time to complete the conditions. A guilty plea is not a regular feature of conditional discharge cases, though the conditional dismissal program entails this aspect.
How long do I have to wait before I can expunge my conditional discharge case?
Upon completion of conditional discharge, the charges will be dismissed. It is important to keep in mind that just because the charges are dismissed does not mean that your arrest records are wiped clean. In order to make it appear as if the charge never existed, you must file a petition for expungement. This is another positive aspect of the conditional discharge program, which allows you to seek to expunge the case only a few short months after completion. Unlike those who are found guilty outside of this program, you do not have to wait years to expunge your record. In fact, you are entitled to file for expungement in as little as 6 months from the date of completion of your terms and correlating dismissal.
Looking for Toms River Conditional Discharge Attorney Help
Please contact the Ocean County criminal law offices of William Proetta Criminal Law at (848)-238-2100 if you have been summoned to municipal court for a drug charge or another case. We can not only help in assessing your viability for the conditional discharge program, but we can also determine if there are other approaches available to best resolve your case. Our lawyers frequently handle the process of filing for expungement on behalf of our clients as well. Whatever your needs may be in a criminal matter, we have the commitment to fulfill them. Do not hesitate to receive a free consultation by contacting us today.