If you have been charged with a first-time criminal offense, you may fear that a conviction could ruin your record and make it harder to get certain jobs or get into the college of your choice. New Jersey’s legislatures, judges, and prosecutors understand this fear. Instead of facing a conviction for a first-time offense, you may be able to apply to the New Jersey Pre-Trial Intervention Program and get the case against you dropped by completing certain requirements.
If you or your child was charged with an offense in Atlantic City or the surrounding areas, and they have no record of previous crimes, talk to the Atlantic City Pre-Trial Intervention lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our attorneys have decades of experience working with defendants to get their charges dropped or dismissed and fighting their cases in court. For a free consultation, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.
What is PTI for New Jersey Crimes?
The Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTI) is designed to help people charged with crimes avoid the penalties for their offense. This is not a get out of jail free card, but it can be extremely beneficial to help people without a record of serious crime move along with their lives without facing harsh penalties.
When you enter the PTI program, you will be placed under court-ordered supervision similar to what is used for probation or parole. This means you may be required to do some of the following:
- Regularly check in with a supervising officer,
- Appear for random or scheduled drug testing,
- Remain free from additional offenses or arrests,
- Participate in education and rehabilitation courses to help you avoid future crime,
- Participate in drug or alcohol rehabilitation,
- Participate in anger management courses,
- Perform community service,
- Avoid certain known associates or high-crime areas,
- And more.
Not every rule will apply in every case, but many of these tools are used to help ensure you will not commit further crime.
When you complete PTI, the charges against you will be dropped. This may allow you to get the arrest and charge expunged from your record so that it would not appear on a criminal background check. In addition, you may avoid paying high criminal fines and spending time in jail if the charges are dropped, but you may still need to pay for PTI itself.
Do I Need to Plead Guilty to Go to PTI?
PTI is similar to other states’ diversionary or conditional plea systems. In some cases, your entry into PTI may require you to plead guilty to the offense. This guilty plea will not be entered on the record, and you will not face immediate sentencing, as is typical with guilty pleas. Instead, this plea is only entered if you fail to complete PTI. If you complete the PTI program successfully, your plea will be thrown out and your charges will be dropped.
The PTI program may not require everyone to enter a conditional guilty plea to enter the program. Instead, this typically applies to people charged with serious offenses, second offenses, or domestic violence charges.
Who Can Apply to PTI in New Jersey
New Jersey’s PTI program is not available to certain people:
Generally, only first-time offenders can apply, but if you have a record of only minor crimes or you meet other qualifications, you may still be accepted into PTI.
PTI is only available for adult offenders, so juvenile cases are not diverted to PTI.
PTI is generally intended for charges for “indictable crimes,” but some courts may allow people to apply to PTI with disorderly persons offenses. Even if formal PTI is not available, the prosecutor may be willing to accept similar informal or formal agreements that do not go through the official PTI process, whereby performing community service or drug and alcohol abuse classes could get your charges dropped.
If you are on probation or parole when you apply to PTI, you may not be accepted. Probation or parole already does a lot of the same things as PTI, so the courts generally do not put their time and money toward overlapping supervision like this.
You can only use PTI once. Successfully completing PTI means that the record of your crime is wiped away. One might think that if they are charged with another crime, there is no record of the crime, so they can apply to PTI again since they have no criminal record. Unfortunately, PTI is only available once, and the courts track who has taken advantage of PTI in the past so they can deny second-time applications.
This program is also unavailable for federal crimes charged in New Jersey.
Our Atlantic City Pre-Trial Intervention and Diversion Lawyers Offer Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was charged with an offense in New Jersey, your situation is not as hopeless as it may seem. If you have no prior record and meet other criteria, you may be eligible to avoid the charges entirely by applying to the Pre-Trial Intervention program. For help with your application and help understanding the process, call The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4956.