New Jersey Defense Attorney Helps Clients Obtain Pretrial Intervention
Attentive Garden State criminal lawyer assists clients in avoiding prosecution
The New Jersey courts, like those in many states, have a program that allows people charged with nonviolent offenses to be diverted from criminal prosecution. Pretrial Intervention (PTI) provides rehabilitative services aimed at resolving the personal problems that led to the offense, with a view toward deterring future criminal behavior and giving the individual a fresh start. If a defendant is accepted into PTI, a judge can postpone all criminal proceedings against him or her for up to three years. At The Law Offices of David Jay Glassman, we assist New Jersey clients in establishing eligibility for PTI and in completing the program successfully.
Experienced counselor focuses on the benefits of PTI
Also known as Supervisory Treatment, PTI is based on the public policy that the penal system is ill-suited to curing the personal problems that can lead a person to crime, especially a first-time offender. Moreover, conviction and jail time can create a hardened criminal by making it difficult for that person to pursue honest work with a record. PTI offers benefits for the individual and for society, namely:
- No jail — The principle benefit to defendants is that they are spared incarceration and its sometimes horrific consequences.
- No criminal stigma — Individuals who successfully complete PTI have their charges dropped and can have their arrest records sealed.
- Rehabilitation — Many offenses are the result of substance abuse and other personal problems and social conditions. Rehabilitation aims to prevent future criminal activity by helping the individual address and combat these issues.
- Cost effectiveness —Acceptance into PTI is far less expensive than mounting a traditional criminal defense, and staying out of jail allows the person to gain or keep employment.
As part of PTI, offenders must complete specified tasks and conditions over a period of one to three years. These can include random urine tests, community service, treatment programs and restitution payments. Once PTI is completed successfully, the judge will dismiss the original charge and cancel the guilty plea, if any.
Informed attorney helps clients establish PTI eligibility
PTI is available to adult defendants and to juveniles aged 16 to 18 who are charged as adults. Most participants are first-time offenders, though repeat offenders may sometimes qualify.
The most crucial step in the PTI process is the initial application, which must be made to the Superior Court Criminal Division within 28 days of the indictment. The application requires information about the offense charged and about the individual’s prior involvement with the criminal court system.
The county prosecutor’s recommendation is vital to PTI admission. The prosecutor considers a multitude of factors, including the nature of the offense and the defendant’s amenability to correction and responsiveness to rehabilitation. Certain factors can make it difficult or impossible to qualify:
- Previous enrollment — You only get one chance at PTI. Prior participation in a pretrial diversionary program, in New Jersey or elsewhere, is a disqualifier.
- Previous convictions — PTI is generally for first-time offenders. A prior conviction for a felony or indictable offense weighs heavily against a grant of PTI and requires giving compelling reasons that justify admission to the program.
- Domestic violence —There is a legal presumption against PTI admission for most offenses involving domestic violence.
- Violent crimes — There is a presumption against PTI admission for a defendant charged with a crime or offense involving violence, weapons or the threat of violence.
Since 2015, New Jersey law has required prosecutors and the courts to give due consideration to the victim’s position on whether or not the defendant should be admitted into PTI.
The 2015 statute also requires that certain defendants enter guilty pleas before entry into PTI, namely those with prior first or second-degree convictions or those charged with:
- a first or second degree crime,
- a third or fourth degree crime involving domestic violence
- a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense involving domestic violence while subject to a temporary or final restraining order
These guilty pleas are held in abeyance pending the defendant’s successful completion of PTI but can be reactivated if the defendant fails, putting the case on track for sentencing.
The recommendations of the prosecutor and PTI program director carry enormous weight in a judge’s decision whether or not to grant PTI. Therefore, you must make the strongest possible case in the initial application to the program, which requires the advice and assistance of a qualified defense attorney.
Contact a knowledgeable New Jersey defense attorney for help with pretrial intervention
From our offices in Marlton, Hackensack, Newark and New Brunswick, New Jersey, we help clients avoid a criminal record by establishing eligibility for PTI and assisting them in compliance with the program. To schedule an initial consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney, call the Law Offices of David Jay Glassman at 866-221-1270 or contact us online.