Facing a criminal charge, especially if it is your first one, can be daunting, and the effects of a criminal record loom while you wait for trial. For many people, a criminal conviction—even one for a minor infraction—can cost them their careers, their personal relationships, opportunities for advancement or higher education, and more.
However, New Jersey’s criminal code and court rules provide an option to avoid a criminal conviction and record for some people who have been charged with criminal offenses, but who have no prior convictions on their record. This option is called Pretrial Intervention (PTI), and it can keep a person’s record clean if he or she meets the criteria for the program, and completes it successfully.
How Do You Apply for Pre-Trial Intervention?
To be a suitable candidate for PTI, you must be charged with an offense that is serious enough to be considered “criminal,” although those who are accused of the most serious, violent crimes will generally be rejected from PTI. Persons who have been charged with possession of marijuana, harassment, or shoplifting merchandise valued at under $200, for example, cannot apply for PTI because these offenses are not considered “criminal.”
Once you’ve applied for PTI, the county prosecutor will exercise his or her discretion to determine whether to allow you to enter the program. Ultimately, the Superior Court judge who has been assigned to your case must approve your application in order for you to be admitted. Under limited circumstances, a judge may order you into PTI over the objection of the county prosecutor.
What Do You Have to Do?
Each Pretrial Intervention decision is dependent on the crime at hand, the defendant, and the judge’s wishes. Like probation, a judge can decide that the defendant must adhere to certain conditions or requirements in order to receive the benefits of PTI—staying sober, refraining from drug use, not getting arrested, etc. A judge can also order a defendant in Pretrial Intervention to pay back those he victimized by his crimes or pay certain fees to the courts. A participant in PTI may also have to undergo counseling, participate in Alcoholics Anonymous, or complete other required programs as part of the conditions of PTI.
If a person who has been admitted to PTI violates any of the conditions set by the judge, he or she may be dismissed from PTI and typically will have the criminal matter restored to the trial calendar to determine the outcome of the criminal charges. However, if the person meets all the requirements of PTI and completes the program, the criminal charges will be dismissed.
PTI Can Change the Course of Your Life
A criminal offense can have a serious impact on the rest of your life, if you are convicted. For many first-time offenders, Pretrial Intervention can minimize that impact, while still allowing them to learn from their mistakes and make restitution. For more information on Pretrial Intervention and dismissing criminal charges, contact Scott Gorman, a leading Morristown expungement attorney at The Gorman Law Firm, today.
Published in Categories: Expungment