Avoiding A Criminal Record Through New Jersey’s Pre-Trial Intervention Program
Quite often in the criminal justice system, there are cases where an individual with no criminal record makes a mistake that results in an arrest and criminal charges. Most people are concerned about the possibility of a felony record, which can adversely affect employment, career goals, state licensing issues, college and graduate school as well as military service.
In New Jersey, felony charges are referred to as indictable offenses which are handled in Superior Court in the county where the arrest occurred. There is a first-offender program in New Jersey called Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) which affords first-time offenders an opportunity to avoid a criminal record. Most often, Pre-Trial Intervention is only available to those who are charged with third and fourth degree felony offenses. Admission into Pre-Trial Intervention requires the consent of the PTI director and the county prosecutor. In most counties in New Jersey, the application for PTI is completed and submitted on the first court date which is typically referred to as an arraignment date. The county prosecutor and PTI director will evaluate the application based on certain criteria set forth in the PTI statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12(e), and New Jersey Court Rule 3:28. The assessment is predicated upon a person’s amenability to correction and potential responsiveness to rehabilitation as well as the facts and circumstances involved in the offense.
The Prosecutors have wide latitude in deciding whom to divert into the PTI program. The law in New Jersey requires the courts to accord great deference to the prosecutor’s decision for or against PTI. The applicant will be admitted into the Pre-Trial Intervention program for a period of six-months to three-years. The person may be required to perform community service, procure a drug and alcohol evaluation and follow-up with any recommendations contained therein, and maybe required to perform other rehabilitative services. Successful completion of the PTI program results in an automatic dismissal of all charges.
Pre-Trial Intervention can be a great opportunity for a first-time offender who is charged with a third or a fourth-degree crime to avoid a criminal record.