Pre-Trial Intervention Procedures in New Jersey
Are you eligible for PTI?
Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) is a diversionary court program that promotes rehabilitation and provides an alternative to New Jersey’s traditional criminal justice system. The program allows eligible defendants to accept a term of probation instead of going to trial, with the criminal charges being dismissed if the defendant successfully completes the terms and conditions of their probation.
To find out whether you’re eligible for PTI and discuss other options that may be available in your case, contact The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo at 908-643-6801 . Our firm has been assisting clients with PTI applications for decades, and we can help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of the program and whether it’s right for you.
PTI Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for PTI, defendants must be charged with an indictable offense under New Jersey law. Non-indictable offenses do not quality, although a similar diversionary program known as conditional discharge is available for defendants facing minor drug charges. Additionally, defendants who have previously participated in PTI or conditional discharge are not eligible for diversion for later offenses.
Defendants applying for PTI must also demonstrate that they will be amenable to rehabilitation and that they are willing to make sufficient efforts to avoid future criminal activity. Whether they meet this requirement depends on a review of various factors, including the nature of the offense, the defendant’s motives, past criminal record and standing in the community, and the likelihood that the defendant would benefit from treatment. The full list of PTI criteria is set forth in N.J.S.A. §2C:43-12.
Certain factors weigh heavily against defendants and create a “presumption against acceptance.” Defendants who have prior convictions are usually rejected, for instance, as are defendants charged with first and second degree crimes, violent crimes, organized crime, criminal business enterprises, and crimes that create a breach of the public trust. Defendants can attempt to overcome a presumption against acceptance by establishing compelling reasons for admission to the program. In making this showing, defendants can submit any facts or materials demonstrating their amenability to rehabilitation and the lack of any rational basis for denying their application.
Applications for PTI and Supervisory Treatment
Judges are required to inform defendants about the PTI program at their first appearance and defendants are thereafter encouraged to file applications for PTI as soon as possible or, at the latest, up to 28 days after their indictment.
PTI applications are filed with the Criminal Division, which interviews the defendant and then issues a written report setting forth its recommendations and the reasons for granting or rejecting PTI. If the Criminal Division approves, the application is then forwarded to the prosecutor, who must consent to the defendant’s enrollment in the program before the application is sent to the judge for final approval.
After receiving approval from the Criminal Division and consent from the prosecutor, the judge may suspend the defendant’s charges for up to 36 months and impose a term of supervisory treatment instead. The terms and conditions of the defendant’s supervisory treatment are determined by the judge based on recommendations from the Criminal Division and the prosecutor. They typically require the defendant to undergo rehabilitative treatment and avoid getting arrested on new criminal charges. The defendant may also be required to attend counseling, complete a term of community service, or provide restitution.
Following successful completion of the supervisory treatment period, the defendant’s criminal charges are dismissed and he retains no record of a criminal conviction. If the defendant violates any of the terms or conditions of his PTI, on the other hand, the judge may either extend the term of supervisory treatment, modify the terms and conditions, or reinstate the original criminal charges.
The Criminal Division and the prosecutor have broad authority to approve or deny PTI applications and rejections will be upheld as long as they are reasonably based on the purposes of the program and the statutory criteria for admission. Defendants may still challenge PTI denials, however, and they may be entitled to a reversal if they can prove that the decision was arbitrary, failed to consider all the statutory criteria, was based on irrelevant factors, or was otherwise a “gross abuse of discretion.”
New Jersey PTI Attorney
If you have questions about the PTI program, contact The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo at 908-643-6801 . The firm’s defense team is experienced with all aspects of the PTI process and can help with filing applications, appealing rejections from the program, and representing defendants charged with violating the terms and conditions of supervisory treatment.