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Attorney
Joseph A. Lombardo

You’ve been charged with a serious crime like drug possession, and now you’re looking at enormous fines, years in prison, and worst of all, a criminal record that will follow you around for a lifetime.  But what if there a was a way to avoid all that?  Wouldn’t you be interested?  If you’re facing criminal charges in New Jersey, there’s good news: if you’re able to meet certain conditions, you might be eligible to participate in something called the Pretrial Intervention Program.  How do you benefit from the program, and what are the requirements for participating?  Could you be a candidate?  Read on to find out.

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Benefits of Participating in the New Jersey PTI Program

Criminal courts tend not to look favorably upon repeat offenders, and in many cases, having a history of prior offenses can make sentencing worse.  To cut down on recidivism and nip crime in the bud, many jurisdictions offer rehabilitation programs to first-time offenders.  In New Jersey, this special alternative program is called the Pretrial Intervention program, or PTI.

Simply put, PTI is an amazing opportunity for those who are eligible to participate.  Major benefits include:

  • No criminal record.  This is significant because a criminal record can cause problems in daily life many years after a conviction.  With a criminal record in your past, you may find you have difficulty applying for jobs, getting certain licenses or clearances, or even being qualified for certain loans.
  • Financial relief.  Going to court can be expensive, but when you participate in PTI, most of your court fees will be wiped out.
  • Rapid resolution.  Court appearances can be stressful and inconvenient.  PTI helps speed up resolution so that you can get back to your normal life that much faster.

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PTI Program Eligibility Requirements and Conditions

Compared to going to prison and receiving a criminal record, PTI is a very attractive option — but who’s allowed to participate?  You need to meet the following criteria:

  • You must be charged with an indictable offense.  Indictable crime is New Jersey’s equivalent term for felony.  Some examples of indictable crimes under New Jersey law include forgery, drug possession, and certain DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) offenses.  However, indictable offenses related to organized crime, as well as violent indictable crimes such as aggravated assault or murder, will not be considered. People charged with DP (Disorderly Persons) offenses, which are equivalent to misdemeanors, also cannot participate.  On a related note, if the likely outcome for your conviction is probation or a fine instead of actual jail time, you will also not be eligible.
  • You must be an adult or be treated as an adult.  People under 18 years of age cannot typically enroll, unless they are a juvenile between 14 and 18 years old who is being tried as an adult in court.
  • You should be a New Jersey resident.  To quote the State Judiciary, “PTI is designed for New Jersey residents, but others may apply.”
  • You should be a first-time offender.  While defendants with previous convictions can participate in rare instances, the PTI program is geared toward first-time offenders with clean prior records.
  • You should not be on probation or parole.  People on parole or probation are usually ineligible, unless (1) the prosecutor gives consent, and (2) their parole or probation department approves participation.
  • This must be your first time participating in PTI.  In accordance with N.J.S.A. 24:21-27 and N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1, “Supervisory treatment may occur only once with respect to any defendant who has previously been enrolled in a program of pretrial intervention or conditionally discharged.”

In addition to the requirements for joining the program, you also need to consistently meet certain requirements while you’re in the program.  For example, participants must remain under supervision, typically for a period of one to three years.  While under supervision, you’ll be subject to random urine tests, and may have to perform community service or attend rehabilitation programs for drug and/or alcohol abuse.  You may also be required to pay restitution to the victim of your offense, and to pay various fees and fines for participating.

It’s very important to note that if you violate any of the terms conditional to enrollment, you’ll be eliminated from the program, which means you’ll be back to facing the same issues you were hoping to avoid.  However, if you complete the program successfully without any violations, your charges will be dismissed, and there will be no record of your original conviction.

If you’ve been charged with an indictable crime and think you meet the eligibility criteria above, or if you have any questions about how to apply, Atlantic City criminal defense lawyer Joseph Lombardo can help.  To set up a free and private case evaluation, call Lombardo Law at (609) 418-4537 today.

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