Update: In September 2013, New Jersey extended Pre-Trial Intervention to Municipal Courts
If you are being charged with a crime and the prosecution has strong enough evidence to convict, there is a possibility that you may be eligible for a program that can help you avoid a criminal record. Pre-trial intervention (PTI) is a diversionary program that is generally offered to first-time offenders as an alternative to other prescribed penalties (including but not limited to jail time).
The guidelines to qualify for PTI are strict and there are certain crimes where PTI will not be offered. The court will take into account several factors, including your background, and consider whether those issues played a role in the commission of the crime.
The goal of PTI is to deter you from committing any future criminal acts once the program has been completed. The good news is that if you finish the program, you will not have a criminal record. PIT also helps the court resolve the matter early without a lengthy court process.
What Are the Qualifications for Pre-Trial Intervention?
If you are charged with a crime in New Jersey, you can apply for PTI if you meet the following criteria:
- You are a legal adult (over 18)
- You have no prior convictions (some exceptions may apply)
- You are not currently on parole or probation (some exceptions may apply)
- You have not already been granted PTI in a previous case
- You are being charged with a crime or municipal ordinance (traffic violations do not qualify)
There are exceptions to even these rules. For example, if you are charged with a first- or second-degree crime or a violent crime, you will not qualify. You are also likely to be rejected (although it is not guaranteed) if you are being charged with a crime that is connected with organized crime or an ongoing criminal enterprise.
Also, PTI does not apply if the charge carries a presumption of non-incarceration. For charges like this, it is assumed that a conviction will not carry a jail sentence. This is the case for many many third- and most fourth-degree crimes, as well as disorderly persons offenses (such as vandalism) in New Jersey.
Why Should I Apply for Pre-Trial Intervention?
The most obvious reason for applying for PTI is that, if successful, you can avoid the stigma of having a criminal record. PTI also avoids many of the costs associated with the formal court process; there are relatively minimal costs associated with PTI. The PTI process is also faster than going to trial, making it easier to put the entire incident behind you and move on with your life.
What Does a Pre-Trial Intervention Program Consist Of?
Depending on the facts surrounding your case, PTI can involve drug testing, community service and compliance with recommended treatment programs such as anger management or drug and alcohol treatment. If an individual does not successfully complete the program then the case will be brought back to the court calendar and the judge can decide how to punish the defendant if convicted.
PTI is available for adult defendants that generally reside in the State of New Jersey. If a person has a previous criminal record they usually will not be eligible for the PTI program. Also if a person has used PTI once before or another similar diversionary program like Conditional Discharge they will not be eligible for PTI.
How Can I Enter a Pre-Trial Intervention Program?
To see if you qualify you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that practices in New Jersey. An attorney can help guide you through the process and argue your case for admission. The application process is not simple and includes an interview with the Criminal Division of the Superior Court. If you have committed a first offense for a crime in New Jersey or you made an attempt to apply for PTI and were denied, call The Rosenblum Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.