New Jersey Pretrial Intervention Program and Expunging Records

Everyone knows that when you are arrested and convicted of a criminal offense, there are immediate and obvious penalties: jail or prison time, fines, and community service are common examples. However, if you are a first-time offender you may be qualified for a program known as Pretrial Intervention. This program may allow you to avoid paying certain fines, and can keep you from going to jail. The Pretrial Intervention Program can even keep the record of conviction from your criminal history. However, if you have gone through PTI you may want to explore having your criminal record expunged so that your criminal history does not reflect the original arrest which is not erased after successful completion of the Pretrial Intervention Program.

Unfortunately, even if an individual was released from jail years ago and has been a law-abiding citizen ever since, they can still face challenges in day-to-day life due to the lingering record of their criminal past.  Former convicts often struggle to find work, obtain housing, or even forge social relationships, all because of an isolated mistake in their past.  A conviction doesn’t just damage the present: too often, it damages the future.

What is the Pretrial Intervention Program?

If you have been arrested you may be confused about the process that is about to unfold and what are some of the options that you may have.  One of the most important programs for you to understand is the Pretrial Intervention Program or (PTI). This program may be an excellent way for you to avoid some of the nasty effects of being arrested.

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The Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) provides defendants, generally first-time offenders, with different opportunities other than the traditional criminal justice process. PTI seeks to render early rehabilitative services to someone who has been arrested, with the intent that by providing these services that a person will be deterred from engaging in future criminal behavior. The PTI program is based on a rehabilitative model that recognizes that there may be an apparent causal connection between the offense charged and the rehabilitative needs of a defendant, and that this program is a means of rehabilitating citizens. Further, the rehabilitative model emphasizes that social, cultural, and economic conditions often result in a defendant’s decision to commit crime. Simply stated, PTI strives to solve personal problems which tend to result from the conditions that appear to cause crime, and ultimately, to deter future criminal behavior by a defendant.

As noted above, Generally first-time offenders are candidates for PTI. Under N.J.S.C 2C:43-12 et. Seq., people who are charged with indictable offenses (crimes of the first, second, third, or fourth degree) may be eligible for pretrial intervention (PTI).

What Are the Benefits of the Pretrial Intervention Program?

If the prosecutor mentions PTI to you, you may be unsure if there are any benefits to taking the program versus going the traditional route of paying fines and possibly going to jail. PTI may be a great alternative if you do not have the money to pay your fines, or you do not want to go to jail, and lets face it, no one wants to go to jail! If PTI is successfully completed, there is no record of conviction and you may avoid the stigma of a having a criminal record.  Additionally, PTI offers:

  • Early intervention allows rehabilitative services to be provided soon after the alleged offense, in an attempt to correct the behavior that led to the offense.
  • Many of the costs associated with the formal court process are eliminated through acceptance into PTI.
  • PTI provides early resolution of a case which serves the interests of the victim, the public, and the defendant.

Although no record of a conviction exists, a defendant may want to file an expungement to remove any record of the original arrest. Early intervention allows rehabilitative services to be provided soon after the alleged offense, in an attempt to correct the behavior that led to the offense. Some of the costs associated with the formal court process are eliminated

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What Do I Need to Get into PTI?

In recognition of the importance of the screening phase of the program, the New Jersey Supreme Court has established a tripartite (three-part) admission procedure involving the program director, the prosecutor, and the trial court. These procedures are governed by a detailed set of uniform guidelines, which shall be referred to presently. The role of the program director, the prosecutor and the court in this process has recently been clarified in the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Leonardis.   If you have been arrested and charged with a crime and think that you qualify for PTI then you should begin the application process as soon as possible. You have until twenty-eight days after the indictment to file your application with the Criminal Division Office, so it is important to be diligent in filing your application.

The application process includes an interview with the defendant by a staff member of the Criminal Division of the Superior Court. A written report is prepared detailing the decision for admittance or rejection into the PTI program. This report is forwarded to the prosecutor and defense counsel. A defendant is accepted into PTI on the recommendation of the Criminal Division, with the consent of the prosecutor and the defendant. If accepted, the conditions for participation are set forth in the PTI Order and must be followed for the defendant to successfully complete. If for any reason the defendant is not accepted, the applicant may appeal the decision to the Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division.

If you think you may be qualified for an expungement of your criminal record, call the law offices of Joseph Lombardo at (609) 445-4300 to speak with an attorney about your legal options.  Our phone lines are staffed around the clock, and we are even available to make holding or jail cell visits in the event of an emergency.  Your first consultation is free, and all consultations are 100% confidential, so call today.

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