For Some There May Be an Alternative to a Criminal Trial

Our Morris County readers may be surprised to learn that, in New Jersey, there actually is a legal route that skirts between the black-and-white of “guilty” or “not guilty.” It’s not an option for every defendant facing a criminal charge, but a criminal defense professional can help determine whether Pre-Trial Intervention is an option worth pursuing.

The New Jersey Courts website lays out the rules of the program. The goal is to recognize cases in which rehabilitative services — as opposed to criminal penalties — could help prevent an individual from re-offending in the future. It offers a number of benefits to participants, including wiping out any record of the criminal charge upon completion of the program as well as minimizing both time and expense in comparison to a traditional criminal trial.

Participants can expect supervision for up to three years under PTI. That may include random urine tests and other conditions like community service, paying restitution, and in some cases psychological and substance abuse evaluations. Defendants who fail to comply with the terms of their PTI will exit the program and their case will return to the court system.

Not everyone is eligible for PTI. The program generally targets first-time offenders. It is not an option for juvenile defendants. Only defendants charged with crimes here in New Jersey may seek to participate. If a defendant has been through the program once before, it cannot be sought again.

These are just a few of the major points of emphasis, and the information is provided only as general background and not specific advice. A criminal defense professional can help determine a defendant’s eligibility and apply for the program, if applicable.

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