New Jersey has a diversionary program for first-time offenders known as Pretrial Intervention (PTI), governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12 et seq. PTI provides first-time offenders with an alternative to the traditional process of criminal prosecution.
Defendants that are eligible for PTI can avoid a criminal conviction upon a successful completion of a period of supervision without being charged with any other offenses. There are several conditions for participation in PTI. First, supervision under PTI averages from one to three years. Second, once accepted into PTI the defendant may be subject to random urine monitoring, and assessments for fees, penalties and fines. Lastly, the defendant must also comply with certain conditions that would likely include a drug treatment program (in drug offense cases) and community service. Once the defendant successfully completes PTI, the original charges are dismissed and there is no record of conviction.
Admission of an applicant is considered based on the nature of the offense committed and the responsiveness to rehabilitation while in the program. However, there are specific factors that are considered in determining the defendant’s eligibility for PTI. The factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12(e) are:
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 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.
Defendants must keep in mind that PTI is designed for adults only who have been charged with a New Jersey criminal or penal offense. PTI excludes admission to defendants that have been previously convicted of an offense and defendants that have previously been granted a diversionary program or conditional discharge. The judges, prosecutors, and program directors make the decision for admissions into PTI. However, the applicant can challenge the decision if not admitted into the program.
Those considering entering into PTI should consult with an attorney as soon as possible in order to commence the application process before trial. The application process involves an interview with a staff member of the Criminal Division of the Superior Court. A written report is then prepared detailing whether or not the applicant was admitted or rejected into the PTI program. If recommended by probation as a candidate for PTI, the prosecutor’s office must then consider whether to accept or reject the candidate into PTI. If the prosecutor also recommends the defendant for PTI, the defendant will be admitted into the PTI program.