Being convicted for a crime in Hudson County, NJ, could wreak havoc on your future prospects. Not only could you face jail time, probation, and fines, but a conviction on your criminal record could prevent you from getting certain jobs or obtaining professional licenses. The good news is that in New Jersey, it's possible to get your charges dismissed to avoid a conviction through a special program called pretrial intervention, or PTI. If you qualify for this program and fulfill all the requirements while the PTI is in effect, the judge will dismiss the charges against you, and you can move forward with a clean slate.
Not every defendant is eligible for pretrial intervention, and not all who are eligible will be approved for PTI. Your best option for successfully applying for pretrial intervention is to hire a capable New Jersey criminal defense attorney like Joseph D. Lento to help you. Let's talk more about pretrial intervention programs in Hudson County and what you need to know.
What Is Pretrial Intervention? How Does It Work?
Pretrial intervention is a program that allows someone charged with a crime to enter into a supervised agreement for a specified period of time, during which the defendant must fulfill certain obligations. Once these requirements have been met and the program is complete, the criminal charges are dismissed, and the defendant avoids a conviction on his/her record. New Jersey has implemented pretrial intervention to help low-risk offenders get a fresh start with no marks on their criminal records, as well as freeing up resources for the courts to focus on more serious offenses.
The presiding judge and prosecutor consider eligible PTI applications on a case-by-case basis. Only candidates who meet the eligibility criteria will be considered.
If you're approved for a PTI program, you will be under the supervision of a probation officer who will help verify that you have fulfilled the terms of your agreement. These terms may include community service, paying any applicable restitution, submitting to periodic drug testing, attending mandatory counseling or treatment, etc.
PTI programs last between 1-3 years. After the program is complete, your case will be dismissed with no conviction appearing on your record. Six months after, you have the option to request that the arrest itself be expunged from your record.
Who Qualifies for Pretrial Intervention?
The New Jersey Criminal Statute 2C:43-12 outlines the legal guidelines for the state's pretrial interventions program. You must meet these criteria to be eligible for pretrial interventions, according to New Jersey Courts.
- You must be at least 18 years of age when the alleged offense was committed.
- You must be a first-time offender, and you must not have gone through a PTI program previously.
- You must be charged with an indictable offense (felony level). Misdemeanor-level offenses don't qualify for PTI.
- The prosecutor must deem you nonviolent. PTI approval is less likely for violent offenses.
- You must be considered low-risk to commit crimes in the future.
You will be notified by the prosecutor in writing whether or not your request for PTI has been accepted. If you are denied PTI, you can appeal to the Superior Court to have the matter reviewed by a judge.
New Jersey law allows defendants to participate in only one pretrial intervention in their lifetime. You will not be eligible for another PTI if you are charged with a crime in the future.
Being eligible for a PTI program is no guarantee of acceptance. The prosecutor and judge evaluate each application on a case-by-case basis, weighing multiple factors when deciding who to accept. An experienced New Jersey defense lawyer can help you determine if you qualify for pretrial intervention. By handling your application, the attorney can also improve your chances of being approved.
Is It Possible To Be Accepted Into a PTI Even if I Do Not Meet the Criteria Above?
In certain cases, yes. Most applicants are considered ineligible for PTI if they have been charged with a first- or second-degree offense, if this is not their first offense, if they are a public official, or if the charges involve domestic violence. However, you may still be considered for PTI by special permission by the prosecutor if you present a convincing argument. A skilled NJ defense attorney can help you prepare this request.
How Do I Apply for a Pretrial Intervention in Hudson County?
If you're charged with a crime in Hudson County and wish to apply for a PTI program, you will fill out a PTI application form and submit it to the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office at the following address:
Hudson County Administration Building
595 Newark Ave.
Jersey City, NJ 07306
ATTN: Jennifer Sincox, Criminal Division Manager
Phone: 201-748-4400 ext. 60160
What Factors Will the Prosecutor Take Into Account When Considering My Application?
New Jersey prosecutors consider numerous factors when deciding whether a case can be admissible for pretrial intervention. These include, but are not limited to:
- The nature of the offense
- The facts and circumstances surrounding the incident
- Your intentions in committing the crime (i.e., was it premeditated or impulsive? Violent or nonviolent?)
- Your age
- Your mental health
- The opinion of the victim
Can My Pretrial Intervention Be Rescinded?
Yes. You could be removed from the PTI program if you fail to meet the requirements or conditions of your program—for example, if you fail a drug test, fail to report to your probation officer, or fail to complete your required community service within the allotted time. If your program is rescinded, your charges will stand, and your case will go to trial as previously scheduled. If you are removed from PTI, the chances of getting re-accepted are very slim. If you believe you will be unable to fulfill your obligations before the end of your PTI program, talk to your probation officer and/or your defense attorney to explore your options.
Why Hire an Attorney for Pretrial Intervention Assistance?
Filling out a PTI application on your own may seem like a simple process, but convincing a prosecutor to accept you into the program may be another matter. Remember, until you're approved, the prosecutor is still acting as your legal adversary, and anything you say could be used as evidence against you at trial. Hiring an experienced New Jersey defense attorney to handle your PTI application can improve your chances for acceptance. A good attorney will know what the Hudson County prosecutor is looking for in a PTI candidate and can put you in the best position for success. Your attorney can also negotiate for the most favorable conditions for your PTI to make it easier for you to fulfill your obligations.
Are You Eligible for Pretrial Intervention?
The best way to know whether you may qualify for a PTI program in New Jersey is to talk with an experienced defense attorney. Joseph D. Lento is a New Jersey attorney with many years of experience in criminal defense cases in Hudson County and throughout the state, and he has assisted many defendants through the pretrial intervention process. Do not miss the chance to have your criminal record expunged and your charges dropped. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3866, or email us to find out if you are eligible for a PTI.