New Jersey Lawyers for Pre-Trial Intervention
Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers Help Clients Avoid Traditional Prosecution Through the Pre-Trial Intervention Program in Essex County, Union County, Morris County, Middlesex County, Bergen County and Somerset County, NJ
Even the New Jersey criminal justice system recognizes that sometimes people make mistakes that don’t justify saddling the person with criminal penalties and a criminal record that can impact life far into the future—especially when that person poses no credible threat to society. In some cases, the state recognizes the importance of focusing on rehabilitation in order to deter future criminal behavior, which is why the pre-trial intervention (PTI) program was developed to allow certain defendants to escape traditional prosecution under certain specific circumstances.
The pre-trial intervention program generally requires a recognition of guilt—meaning that you accept responsibility for the fact that you broke the law and are committed to working through the program. Any number of conditions can be imposed to successfully complete the PTI program, but most are designed to confront the issues that led to the criminal behavior in the first place, including socioeconomic status, substance abuse or even mental health issues.
At Zegas Law, we believe in second chances, and are committed to using our resources to help clients both understand the requirements of the pre-trial intervention program and gain admission to PTI where available. This alternative process, though valuable, is not automatically available. Our experienced Morris County criminal defense lawyers will work with you to prepare your application and advocate on your behalf throughout the entire process. If you are interested in learning more about PTI in Northern New Jersey, call or contact our office today.
When is Pre-Trial Intervention Available?
In most cases, pre-trial intervention is only available to first-time offenders, or defendants who have extremely minor prior infractions on their records. Eligible applicants will generally be:
- Adult New Jersey residents (some out of state residents charged in New Jersey may qualify),
- Charged in state court (federal charges do not qualify),
- Charged with an indictable offense where jail is possible (rather than extremely minor offenses that will likely result in a suspended sentence),
- Charged with a non-violent crime, usually a third-degree or fourth-degree offense, (serious offenses such as sex crimes, homicide and similar offenses do not qualify),
- A first-time participant in any New Jersey diversionary program, including conditional dismissal and conditional discharge,
- Defendants who are on probation or parole will rarely qualify for PTI admission.
If accepted into the PTI program, you will be required to complete any number of conditions that are imposed based upon the specific circumstances of your case. For example, your PTI conditions may include:
- Refraining from any further criminal activity,
- Drug or alcohol counseling,
- Mental health treatment,
- Community service,
- Payment of fines and penalty fees,
- Vocational counseling,
- Drug and alcohol screening.
PTI generally lasts between one and three years, at the end of which the charges against you will be dropped. In some cases, it may be possible to apply for early termination of your PTI conditions.
Skilled Defense Team at Zegas Law Helps Clients Understand All Aspects of the Pre-Trial Intervention Program
Pre-trial intervention can provide substantial benefits to eligible applicants—avoiding a criminal conviction in itself is an important benefit, but the rehabilitative aspects of the program are especially valuable for those who committed a crime based upon circumstances, including economic and socioeconomic situations, as well as those suffering from mental health issues or drug dependence. PTI also benefits New Jersey as a whole by freeing the courts to focus on more serious cases and avoiding the time and expense of an unnecessary trial.
However, pre-trial intervention is not always the best route for all defendants. At Zegas Law, our experienced lawyers are committed to analyzing your entire case before pushing you into a program that requires an admission of guilt. In cases where the prosecution’s case is particularly weak, it may be advantageous to negotiate to simply have your charges dismissed. We can help you evaluate how the pre-trial intervention program would likely impact you specifically based upon the unique circumstances of your case.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation to Discuss the Pre-Trial Intervention Program
One mistake does not have to color your foreseeable future, and our experienced North Jersey criminal defense lawyers are here to help advocate for your participation in the pre-trial intervention program to avoid conviction if at all possible. For more information and to discuss your options, schedule a confidential consultation by calling or contacting our office using this online form today.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pre-Trial Intervention Programs
FAQ: How do I apply to the pre-trial intervention program?
After consultation with a lawyer, your application to the pre-trial intervention program must be made within 28 days after you are indicted and requires payment of a $75 fee, which can be waived in cases of poverty. The application is filed in the criminal division office located in the county where the charges against you have been filed. The process for gaining admission will generally begin with an interview with a Superior Court employee, which will eventually result in a recommendation to admit or deny your application. We will present evidence arguing in favor of your admission, and the prosecution has the option of agreeing or challenging your admission. If you are accepted, a pre-trial intervention order will be issued and will contain all conditions that you must satisfy to successfully complete the program. If the application is denied, we can appeal in some circumstances or proceed with your case via the traditional criminal justice process.
FAQ: What is the difference between the PTI program and probation?
Probation is a supervised program that occurs outs of the prison system after the defendant has been convicted. Pre-trial intervention, on the other hand, does not actually result in conviction so long as you successfully complete all conditions of the program. In other words, after completing traditional probation, you will be required to disclose a criminal conviction in certain settings, but after successfully completing PTI, there will be no criminal conviction to disclose (although you will have an arrest record, which you may be entitled to expunge after six months).