New Jersey Pre-Trial Intervention Program for First Offenders
Pretrial Intervention, or PTI, is a program that allows certain defendants to avoid prosecution in the traditional criminal justice system in New Jersey. PTI emphasizes rehabilitation over punishment as a way to reduce recidivism, which is why defendants admitted into the PTI program are required to participate in rehabilitative service programs instead of being sentenced to prison. The general idea behind PTI is that individuals will be less likely to commit crimes in the future if they receive the help they need now and get their lives back on track. This means that participants in the PTI program are expected to undergo counseling for alcohol abuse, drug abuse, anger management, or any other personal issues they may have. PTI participants must also submit to supervision by the court, which may include regular meetings with a court officer, random drug testing, and more.
Eligibility for Pretrial Intervention is limited to first-time offenders who do not have any prior criminal convictions on their record. Additionally, PTI is only available as an option one time: a defendant who was previously enrolled in PTI will not be eligible to enroll a second time. One important limitation on eligibility for PTI is that the defendant must be charged with an indictable offense (i.e., a felony) that is heard in the superior court. If the defendant has been charged with a disorderly persons offense, a petty disorderly persons offense, or a municipal ordinance violation, these are not technically considered “crimes” and they are therefore not eligible for PTI. As long as the defendant qualifies for PTI, they can apply for admission into the program. The ultimate decision about admittance into PTI is made by the prosecutor, who will review the defendant’s record, investigate the case, and conduct interviews.
If the defendant is ultimately allowed to enroll in Pretrial Intervention, they will need to attend all required counseling sessions, as well as following any plan of supervision for as long as deemed necessary by the court. When the PTI participant has successfully completed their probationary period and met all conditions set by the court, the criminal charges against the defendant are dismissed. Not only does this mean that the defendant will avoid going to jail or prison, but they will also avoid having a criminal record because it will be as if the conviction never happened.
a. Public policy. The purpose of sections 2C:43-12 through 2C:43-22 of this chapter is to effectuate a Statewide program of Pretrial Intervention. It is the policy of the State of New Jersey that supervisory treatment should ordinarily be limited to persons who have not previously been convicted of any criminal offense under the laws of New Jersey, or under any criminal law of the United States, or any other state when supervisory treatment would:
(1) Provide applicants, on an equal basis, with opportunities to avoid ordinary prosecution by receiving early rehabilitative services or supervision, when such services or supervision can reasonably be expected to deter future criminal behavior by an applicant, and when there is apparent causal connection between the offense charged and the rehabilitative or supervisory need, without which cause both the alleged offense and the need to prosecute might not have occurred; or
(2) Provide an alternative to prosecution for applicants who might be harmed by the imposition of criminal sanctions as presently administered, when such an alternative can be expected to serve as sufficient sanction to deter criminal conduct; or
(3) Provide a mechanism for permitting the least burdensome form of prosecution possible for defendants charged with “victimless” offenses, other than defendants who were public officers or employees charged with offenses that involved or touched their office or employment; or
(4) Provide assistance to criminal calendars in order to focus expenditure of criminal justice resources on matters involving serious criminality and severe correctional problems; or
(5) Provide deterrence of future criminal or disorderly behavior by an applicant in a program of supervisory treatment.
b. Admission of an applicant into a program of supervisory treatment shall be measured according to the applicant’s amenability to correction, responsiveness to rehabilitation and the nature of the offense. There shall be a presumption against admission into a program of supervisory treatment for a defendant who was a public officer or employee whose offense involved or touched upon his public office or employment.
c. The decision and reasons therefore made by the designated judges (or assignment judges), prosecutors and program directors in granting or denying applications for supervisory treatment, in recommending and ordering termination from the program or dismissal of charges, in all cases shall be reduced to writing and disclosed to the applicant.
d. If an applicant desires to challenge the decision of the prosecutor or program director not to recommend enrollment in a program of supervisory treatment the proceedings prescribed under section 14 shall be followed.
e. Referral. At any time prior to trial but after the filing of a criminal complaint, or the filing of an accusation or the return of an indictment, with the consent of the prosecutor and upon written recommendation of the program director, the assignment judge or a judge designated by him may postpone all further proceedings against an applicant and refer said applicant to a program of supervisory treatment approved by the Supreme Court. Prosecutors and program directors shall consider in formulating their recommendation of an applicant’s participation in a supervisory treatment program, among others, the following criteria:
(1) The nature of the offense;
(2) The facts of the case;
(3) The motivation and age of the defendant;
(4) The desire of the complainant or victim to forego prosecution;
(5) The existence of personal problems and character traits which may be related to the applicant’s crime and for which services are unavailable within the criminal justice system, or which may be provided more effectively through supervisory treatment and the probability that the causes of criminal behavior can be controlled by proper treatment;
(6) The likelihood that the applicant’s crime is related to a condition or situation that would be conducive to change through his participation in supervisory treatment;
(7) The needs and interests of the victim and society;
(8) The extent to which the applicant’s crime constitutes part of a continuing pattern of anti-social behavior;
(9) The applicant’s record of criminal and penal violations and the extent to which he may present a substantial danger to others;
(10) Whether or not the crime is of an assaultive or violent nature, whether in the criminal act itself or in the possible injurious consequences of such behavior;
(11) Consideration of whether or not prosecution would exacerbate the social problem that led to the applicant’s criminal act;
(12) The history of the use of physical violence toward others;
(13) Any involvement of the applicant with organized crime;
(14) Whether or not the crime is of such a nature that the value of supervisory treatment would be outweighed by the public need for prosecution;
(15) Whether or not the applicant’s involvement with other people in the crime charged or in other crime is such that the interest of the State would be best served by processing his case through traditional criminal justice system procedures;
(16) Whether or not the applicant’s participation in pretrial intervention will adversely affect the prosecution of codefendants; and
(17) Whether or not the harm done to society by abandoning criminal prosecution would outweigh the benefits to society from channeling an offender into a supervisory treatment program.
f. Review of Supervisory Treatment Applications; Procedure Upon Denial. Each applicant for supervisory treatment shall be entitled to full and fair consideration of his application. If an application is denied, the program director or the prosecutor shall precisely state his findings and conclusion which shall include the facts upon which the application is based and the reasons offered for the denial. If the applicant desires to challenge the decision of a program director not to recommend, or of a prosecutor not to consent to, enrollment into a supervisory treatment program, a motion shall be filed before the designated judge (or assignment judge) authorized pursuant to the rules of court to enter orders.
g. Limitations. Supervisory treatment may occur only once with respect to any defendant and any person who has previously received supervisory treatment under section 27 of P.L.1970, c.226 (C.24:21-27), shall not be eligible for supervisory treatment under this section. However, supervisory treatment, as provided herein, shall be available to a defendant irrespective of whether the defendant contests his guilt of the charge or charges against him.
h. Termination. Termination of supervisory treatment under this section shall be immediately reported to the assignment judge of the county who shall forward such information to the Administrative Director of the Courts.
i. Appointment of Program Directors; Authorized Referrals. Programs of supervisory treatment and appointment of the program directors require approval by the Supreme Court with the consent of the assignment judge and prosecutor. Referrals of participants from supervisory treatment programs may be to any public or private office or agency, including but not limited to, programs within the probation service of the court, offering counseling or any other social service likely to aid in the rehabilitation of the participant and to deter the commission of other offenses.
j. Health Care Professional Licensing Board Notification. The program director shall promptly notify the State Board of Medical Examiners when a State licensed physician or podiatrist has been enrolled in a supervisory treatment program after he has been charged with an offense involving drugs or alcohol.
N.J.S.A. 2C:43-13, the statute for PTI Supervisory Treatment provides:
a. Agreement. The terms and duration of the supervisory treatment shall be set forth in writing, signed by the prosecutor and agreed to and signed by the participant. Payment of the assessment required by section 2 of P.L.1979, c.396 shall be included as a term of the agreement. If the participant is represented by counsel, defense counsel shall also sign the agreement. Each order of supervisory treatment shall be filed with the county clerk.
b. Charges. During a period of supervisory treatment the charge or charges on which the participant is undergoing supervisory treatment shall be held in an inactive status pending termination of the supervisory treatment pursuant to subsection d. or e. of this section.
c. Period of treatment. Supervisory treatment may be for such period, as determined by the designated judge or the assignment judge, not to exceed three years, provided, however, that the period of supervisory treatment may be shortened or terminated as the program director may determine with the consent of the prosecutor and the approval of the court.
d. Dismissal. Upon completion of supervisory treatment, and with the consent of the prosecutor, the complaint, indictment or accusation against the participant may be dismissed with prejudice.
e. Violation of conditions. Upon violation of the conditions of supervisory treatment, the court shall determine, after summary hearing, whether said violation warrants the participant’s dismissal from the supervisory treatment program or modification of the conditions of continued participation in that or another supervisory treatment program. Upon dismissal of the participant from the supervisory treatment program, the charges against the participant may be reactivated and the prosecutor may proceed as though no supervisory treatment had been commenced.
f. Evidence. No statement or other disclosure by a participant undergoing supervisory treatment made or disclosed to the person designated to provide such supervisory treatment shall be disclosed, at any time, to the prosecutor in connection with the charge or charges against the participant, nor shall any such statement or disclosure be admitted as evidence in any civil or criminal proceeding against the participant. Nothing provided herein, however, shall prevent the person providing supervisory treatment from informing the prosecutor, or the court, upon request or otherwise as to whether or not the participant is satisfactorily responding to supervisory treatment.
g. Delay. No participant agreeing to undergo supervisory treatment shall be permitted to complain of a lack of speedy trial for any delay caused by the commencement of supervisory treatment.
If you or your loved one is facing an indictable offense in New Jersey and is seeking acceptance into PTI, feel free to call 732.494.7900 for a free consultation with a seasoned Ocean County NJ PTI Attorney.
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