New Jersey’s pretrial intervention program (PTI) aims to rehabilitate offenders without burdening them with a criminal record. Defendants often prefer the PTI program because it allows them to avoid a conviction.
The PTI program is a diversionary program designed for first-time offenders. Defendants who enter the program must meet certain conditions imposed by the court, like drug screenings and counseling sessions, for a certain period of time. Upon completion of the program, the charges are dismissed. Only first-time adult offenders are eligible for the program. Even then, certain charges might be ineligible, such as very serious violent crimes. PTI comes with various benefits, including no criminal records for defendants. If you fail to complete the program, your charges can be reinstated, and you may be prosecuted.
Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys can help you apply for the PTI program if you are a first-time offender. For a free case review, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.
What is PTI in New Jersey?
The PTI program is designed to help rehabilitate first-time offenders in New Jersey while circumventing the traditional criminal justice process. People in the PTI program typically do not have a trial, are not prosecuted, and are not convicted of any crimes.
When defendants are accepted into the PTI program, their charges are set aside while they complete the program. Being in the PTI program is somewhat similar to being on probation. You must meet specific conditions set by the court, including drug screenings, refraining from criminal activity, and regular meetings with a probation officer.
The program also provides things like counseling, supervision, and other services offenders might need for rehabilitation purposes. If you complete the program, the court will dismiss your charges, and you will not have a criminal record.
Getting into the PTI program is not guaranteed even if you meet the eligibility requirements. Our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys can help you submit your application quickly and hopefully get you into the program. It is important to begin applying as soon as possible.
Who is Eligible for PTI in New Jersey?
Not all defendants can take part in New Jersey’s PTI program. Generally, only first-time offenders are eligible to participate. Not only that, but you must not have participated in the program or a similar program in the past. Being in the PTI program is a one-time deal. Participants must also be adult offenders or juveniles who are treated as adult offenders by the court. If you have taken part in a diversion program or other pretrial intervention program before, talk to a lawyer about your eligibility status for PTI.
Offenders must also be charged with an indictable crime, not a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense. Indictable crimes are more serious charges similar to felonies in other states. Disorderly persons offenses are more like misdemeanors and are less severe. Only indictable crimes are eligible for the PTI program.
Keep in mind that not all indictable crimes are eligible for the PTI program. If you face very severe charges for serious violent offenses, like murder, manslaughter, or something similar, you are probably not eligible. You should go over your case with a lawyer to determine if PTI is possible in your case.
You should apply to the program as early as possible if you are eligible, preferably before an indictment. You must submit your application before the first case disposition conference after your arraignment. Otherwise, you might not get into the program. Speak to our Avalon criminal defense attorneys about your case as soon as possible, and we can help you apply to the PTI program.
Benefits of PTI in New Jersey
You should speak to a lawyer about the possibility of applying to the PTI program because it has numerous benefits for defendants. Perhaps the most significant benefit is that defendants who complete the program have their charges dismissed. Because most participants are first-time offenders, the program helps them avoid a criminal record.
There are also various other aspects of the program that can help a defendant struggling with certain issues. For example, if you are charged with certain drug-related offenses before entering the PTI program, you might be able to take advantage of drug counseling as part of the program.
You should also consider the financial advantages of the program. While you have to pay some application fees and various other costs, they are often far less expensive than defendants’ legal fees in a full trial. Our Brigantine criminal defense attorneys can help you begin the application process immediately if you are eligible.
What if I Do Not Complete PTI in New Jersey
You should know that failure to complete the program comes with serious consequences. If you do not meet all the conditions and requirements of the PTI program imposed by the court, the court will reinstate your criminal charges. This means you will face criminal prosecution to the full extent of the law.
Without the program, you face the very real risk of being convicted of your charges. With a criminal record, you may have a hard time finding jobs or renting apartments in the future. You will also have the deal with the steep costs of legal fees throughout your trial.
How long you are in the PTI program depends on your circumstances, and you may be in the program for up to 36 months. Failing out of the program can be very disheartening for defendants who invest a lot of time into the program.
To make matters worse, you will unlikely be able to take advantage of the PTI program ever again. The program is typically aimed at first-time offenders who have not participated in the program before. Even if you enter the program and fail, you might be barred from this opportunity for future charges.
Call Our New Jersey PTI Attorneys for Help
If you have recently been arrested for your first ever criminal offense, contact our Cape May criminal defense attorneys about possibly entering the PTI program. For a free evaluation of your case, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.