If you are facing a criminal charge in New Jersey as a first-time offender, it will be important for you to speak with an Essex County criminal defense attorney about seeking entry into a diversionary program. Entering into – and successfully completing – a diversionary program will result in the dismissal of your criminal charge.
However, entering into a diversionary program involves a major commitment, and you should not automatically pursue entry into one of these programs. If you have defenses available, then fighting to secure a “not guilty” verdict in court could still be your best option. You need to think carefully about your alternatives, and you need to make an informed decision with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
What are New Jersey’s Diversionary Programs for First-Time Offenders?
New Jersey has three main diversionary programs for adult first-time offenders. These programs are:
1. Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI)
As the New Jersey Courts explain, “PTI seeks to render early rehabilitative services when such services can reasonably be expected to deter future criminal behavior.”
In order to be eligible for PTI, you must be awaiting trial on an indictable offense (or a disorderly persons domestic violence offense), and you must not have previously participated in any diversionary program. While you are enrolled in the program, you will be required to fulfill certain obligations such as performing community service, paying restitution, and submitting to drug and alcohol evaluations. If you successfully complete the program, then your charge will be dismissed. However, if you fail to successfully complete the program, then your case will be put back on track for trial.
2. Conditional Discharge Program
New Jersey’s conditional discharge program is an option for individuals who have been charged with marijuana possession and other lower-level drug crimes. This program is similar to PTI, but participants must submit to random drug testing, regularly attend Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings and meet certain other requirements as well. Like PTI, successful completion of the conditional discharge program results in your charges being dismissed, while failure to complete the program means facing trial.
3. Conditional Dismissal Program
The conditional dismissal program is an option for individuals who have been charged with certain first-time disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses. It is very similar to PTI. If you have been charged with a qualifying disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense and there is a good chance that you will be convicted if your case goes to trial, then seeking entry into the conditional dismissal program may be the best alternative you have available.
PIT and conditional discharge programs typically last from six months to three years, while conditional dismissal programs typically last one or two years. As a result, deciding to participate in one of these programs instead of fighting your charge is not a matter to be taken lightly. To discuss your options in confidence, schedule a free initial consultation at The Gorman Law Firm today.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation at The Gorman Law Firm
If you would like more information about New Jersey’s diversionary programs, please contact us to arrange a free initial consultation with Essex County criminal defense attorney Scott Gorman. To schedule an appointment as soon as possible, call 201-489-9199 or tell us how we can reach you online now.
Published in Categories: Criminal Defense