Those who are currently charged with a criminal offense in Burlington County, New Jersey, may have an option to resolve their case known as pre-trial intervention. Pre-trial intervention is a program that would result in a complete dismissal of your criminal charges if you are successful. Pre-trial intervention is not available for all people and cases; it is generally reserved for specific types of lower-level offenses. If you are curious about what a pre-trial intervention in your case would look like, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help you. An attorney can assess the factors in your case to help you determine if a pre-trial intervention program might be available to you.
What is Pre-Trial Intervention?
Pre-trial intervention is a diversion to regular criminal prosecution. A diversion means that your case would be taken off of the regular court calendar and be diverted to a different calendar and prosecution approach. If your case is granted a pre-trial intervention, then you will also be expected to agree to all of the terms and conditions that the court sets for you. You will likely be reporting to a probation agent that reports to the judge. This probation against will monitor your progress and oversee any drug or alcohol testing and any required treatment. If you violate the terms of your pre-trial intervention, then the probation agent can bring this to the judge's attention for determination on potential punishment. If you complete the terms of your pre-trial intervention, then your original criminal offense will be dismissed as your reward. The prosecutor and judge must both agree that your case deserves pre-trial intervention treatment. Nonviolent, first-time offenders are the ones who are most likely to earn pre-trial intervention treatment. You can even get the record of your arrest and charge expunged from your criminal record six months after the end of your pre-trial intervention. You may or may not be expected to plead guilty to a criminal offense to be awarded pre-trial intervention. Make sure you understand the parameters of any agreement you make with the court.
Who Qualifies for Pre-Trial Intervention?
The New Jersey Criminal Statutes at 2C:43-12 outline the rules for pre-trial intervention across the state. Each prosecutor's office has more specific details about how their program operates, but the state statute describes the general rules and approach. Typically, pre-trial intervention is only available to people who have never been in trouble before, have never been accepted into a pre-trial intervention before, and are charged with a minor offense. You have to apply for pre-trial intervention, and each case will be examined by a prosecutor to determine if the case fits the necessary entry criteria. The New Jersey legislature recognized the need for courts across the state to properly allocate their limited means and resources on the appropriate cases. Pre-trial intervention allows the courts to focus their efforts, attention, and resources on the more serious cases while still overseeing and monitoring less serious cases.
What Factors Are Considered in Determining Pre-Trial Intervention?
In Burlington County, New Jersey, prosecutors must follow state law when they consider who is accepted into a pre-trial intervention program. The law requires prosecutors to consider several factors, including:
- How old the defendant is
- Where the case took place
- If the defendant has ever been in any trouble before
- The nature and circumstances of the offense charged
- If the defendant has any signs of mental health issues
A prosecutor will consider these and several other factors to determine whether someone will be accepted into a pre-trial intervention program. Major criminal offenses have a much lower likelihood of qualifying for pre-trial intervention than minor offenses do.
What Are Some Other Pre-Trial Intervention Rules?
Prosecutors and judges must also consider several other pre-trial intervention rules and regulations when determining who gets accepted into the program. Some of these rules and regulations include:
- The law has a presumption against granting pre-trial intervention to individuals charged with domestic violence or misconduct in public office
- The decision to grant or deny pre-trial intervention must be in writing
- You have the right to appeal a pre-trial intervention decision
- If you decide to appeal, then a superior court judge will hear and decide your appeal
There are several other pre-trial intervention rules and regulations. It is essential to understand all of the potential rules that apply to you in a pre-trial intervention case.
How Does Pre-Trial Intervention Work in Burlington County?
Those who are currently charged with a criminal offense in Burlington County, New Jersey, are likely being prosecuted by the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office. If you are planning to seek admission into a pre-trial intervention program, then you are required to make the request with the Prosecutor's Office that is handling your case. In general, pre-trial intervention programs are only reserved for third-degree and fourth-degree criminal offenses. It is possible under the law to be admitted into pre-trial intervention if you are charged with a first-degree or second-degree offense, but it will require special permission from the prosecutor. You will also need special permission to be admitted into a pre-trial intervention program for a drug distribution offense. Burlington County pre-trial intervention programs can last as long as 3 years. You have 28 days after you are first indicted on criminal charges to request pre-trial intervention, and you will also be required to pay a $75 fee to apply.
What Are Some Requirements of Pre-Trial Intervention?
There are several requirements that you will have to complete over the course of your pre-trial intervention program if you are accepted. Some of the requirements that are common to intervention include:
- Possible drug or alcohol counseling
- Court fines and oversight fees
- Restitution (if necessary)
- Required community service
Expect your pre-trial intervention to be specific to your case and situation. If you have to repay someone for damage or injury that you have caused, then you will have to do so in restitution. Expect to be required to report to a probation agent and make court appearances when you are called. If you are fully compliant with the terms of your pre-trial intervention, then you can likely avoid having to face the judge. If you fail to complete any term of your pre-trial intervention, then you can be disciplined and removed from the program. You will likely only get one chance at a pre-trial intervention, so use it wisely if you are given the opportunity.
What Happens If I Don't Complete Pre-Trial Intervention Successfully?
If you violate the terms of your pre-trial intervention program, then you can be disciplined or removed from the program. If this happens, then you will be back at the beginning of your case as your original criminal charges will be put back on the court calendar. If you are alleged to have committed a new crime, then expect the possibility of additional criminal charges. It is important to treat pre-trial intervention seriously because if you don't follow the terms of your agreement, then it can result in significant consequences. If you lose your pre-trial intervention, then you will still have all of the rights and opportunity to defend your criminal case as you did before being entered into the program. The biggest loss from being kicked out of pre-trial intervention is the ability to guarantee that your case would not end up in a criminal conviction.
Do You Need an Attorney to Get Pre-Trial Intervention?
In the United States, you have the Constitutional right to represent and defend yourself in a criminal case. The Constitution also affords you the right to have an attorney's help in a criminal case. The most important decision that sometimes is made in a case is who your attorney is. So, when you make the choice, make sure it is based on that attorney's track record of success and their experience in the field. It can be dangerous to try to negotiate with a prosecutor on your own because your statements could potentially be used against you by the prosecutor. It is important to enlist an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands what the important factors in a pre-trial intervention case are to appropriately negotiate on your behalf. Make sure you hire the right attorney to represent you.
Contact the Lento Law Firm Today
If you have pre-trial intervention questions, then get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. It is important that your attorney has the experience to know what the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office is looking for when they are examining a case for pre-trial intervention. Choose the law firm with the right experience and success. To learn why attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are the right decision to defend you against a criminal charge, call us toll-free at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.