New Jersey Criminal Justice Diversonary Programs | Pre-Trial Intervention and Conditional Discharge

     New Jersey has a few programs in place to divert certain low level first time offenders from the traditional criminal justice system.  The two that will be discussed here will be, N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12, otherwise known as the Conditional Discharge(CD)  and Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) programs.

There are hundreds of avenues to defend a criminal case in NJ, and with over 40 years experience as a Judge, Prosecutor, and Private Defense Lawyer, the Attorneys of Avery & Avery, pursue them all vigorously.  PTI and Conditional Discharge programs are among those avenues and after successful  negotiation with the prosecution and entrance into the programs, provide a route to avoid a criminal record, and prison for our clients.  For a free consultation to go over your case and perhaps see if you are eligible for the PTI or CD programs, please call, 201-943-2445.


What is Pre Trial Intervention (PTI)?

PTI is a program designed for certain first offenders in the Superior Courts of NJ to stay out of prison and avoid a criminal record that would follow you for the rest of your life.  

Entrance into PTI generally stops all criminal proceedings and will result in all charges being dropped at the end of a probationary period.  During probation you must remain out of trouble for 1-3 years and fulfill all other obligations set by the judge.  These may include counselling, drug testing, drug abuse prevention programs, restitution, employment requirements, etc..  Six months after a case has been dismissed at the end of the probationary period all records of arrest and adjudication can be Expunged.

For your convenience you can use the following link for a copy of the NJ PTI Statute.


What is Conditional Discharge (CD)?

Conditional Discharge is similar to PTI, but with several key distinctions.  It is useable both in Municipal Court whereas PTI is generally reserved for Superior Court and higher grades of offenses.  Unlike PTI, which can be used for a variety of indictible offenses, conditional discharge is only for NJ drug possession or paraphernalia charges.

If you have no past criminal case history and are otherwise eligible, you may be permitted to enter the program.  There will be a 6 to 12 month probationary period, in which it is important to have no further legal entanglements or trouble.  

Once successfully completing probation, the original charges will be dismissed.  Six months after completion, you may have all records of arrest and adjudication be Expunged.


Can everybody use PTI and Conditional Discharge?

The following are barriers to entrance into the program:

  1. Crime was part of organized crime;
  2. Part of a continueing criminal enterprise;
  3. Deliberately committed with violence or threat thereof;
  4. The offense was for 1st or 2nd degree drug distribution;
  5. Prior convictions;
  6. Prior use of diversionary program.

Under certain circumstances our  expert attorney's have succesfully argued for our clients right to utilize the program, despite the above.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the downside of using these programs?

These programs are not without their downsides, a supervisory period as well as certain other court requirements and fees mean that not everyone completes the programs.  Another downside to using them is that they will then forever be unavailable to you in the future.  This risk is mitigated by the fact that a conviction for the charge may bar you from using the programs in the future anyway.

Overall however, the benefits of CD and PTI in avoiding jail time and a criminal record far outweigh the risks, and we advise many clients to take advantage of them.  It is important to note however that PTI and Conditional discharge are last ditch attempts to avoid prosecution.  More often than not our expert criminal defense lawyers are able to protect you without the use of the programs.

As a final thought, after the completion of a NJ PTI or Conditional Discharge program, you will no longer be technically eligible for the Expungement of prior or subsequent petty disorderly persons, disorderly persons, or criminal convictions.  As such, if appropriate, we reccomend we expunge all records before entering into a diversionary program.

Can I apply to these programs without a lawyer?

While you may apply to the programs without an attorney, you would have a much greater chance of success with one.  Often times the Judge, Prosecutor or Criminal Division manager may not agree with your acceptance into the program, in these cases a lawyer experienced in these matters is extremely valuable and may mean the difference between jail time and entrance to the program.

The use of the programs are a last resort, and you only get one chance to use them.  As such it is always advisable to have an attorney review your case to determine other defenses or ways around a criminal conviction while preserving your right to enter the programs for a possible subsequent offense.

I have multiple criminal charges, would PTI or Conditional Discharge only relieve me of one of these charges?

This is up to the discretion of the prosecutor and Judge, and where effective advocacy takes place.  More often than not, our expert criminal defense lawyers are able to have all charges dropped along side an application for PTI.  We stress to our clients however, that all charges will be brought back if they do not successfully complete the program

I am not a citizen of the United States, can I still enter the programs? 

This is not a simple question.  Depending on what your status is, and what your charges are, the court may or may not permit it.  However, the expert lawyers of Avery & Avery, are regularly are successful in negotiating the entrance of undocumented residents and permanent residents into the program.   

How will the programs affect my citizenship status?

In general, successful completion of the programs means there is no judgment or conviction that would draw the attention of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).  Although every case is different, these programs are often successful in protecting clients ability to remain in the country.  For more information on the immigration consequences of your charges, we invite you to give us a call at 201-943-2445.

I have used a similar program in another State, am I sitll eligible?

The answer depends on the terms of the other states program.  If it is sufficiently similar to New Jersey's, then the short answer is normally no.  Even so, we have often been successful having our clients enter the program despite this.

I plan to or already live in another State, how would I do probation in NJ? 

In these cases, NJ refers the case and terms of probation to your local law enforcement and probation offices.  Afterwards, you complete the probation in your home state, only returning to NJ to have the case finally dismissed.  Personal appearance in NJ may be waived and your lawyer may be able to complete this for you.

I’ve been arrested, or am about to be arrested, what do I tell the police? 

We give the same answer to all clients regarding all criminal charges, say nothing!  Until you talk to your NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Is working with the police to have my charges dismissed a possibility?

Sometimes the best approach to avoid prosecution is for a client to "turn state's evidence".  This is an opportunity which occasionally can be worked out with the prosecutor and police in order to have our clients charges dropped.  

Can I expunge my record?

Yes, you are allowed to apply for an expungement six months after completion of the program.  The expungement will erase records of your arrest, charges, and any subsequent records.  You must complete the program to be eligible for this.

This does not count against your one life time expungement.  This means that you can have already expunged your record and still expunge the record created by the predicate offense which you applied to PTI or the CD program for.  The reverse is not true however, and after completing a diversionary program, you can no longer expunge other records.

The Law Offices of Avery & Avery commonly have clients who wish to retain our services for both the case and entry into a program, and the subsequent expungement.  We offer discounted rates when this service is requested.

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