Pretrial Intervention: How to Avoid a Criminal Record
For now, let’s start with the obvious. The easiest way to avoid a criminal record is to stay out of trouble. However, mistakes do happen that can result in criminal charges. As a first time offender, you are more than likely petrified at what potentially lies ahead. For that reason, you may be relieved to learn about pretrial intervention, commonly referred to as PTI.
If you are facing criminal charges, there is no doubt you are worried. It’s not just that you’re concerned about jail time. Just about everyone knows that a criminal record impacts employment opportunities. In short, even the tiniest blemish can be life-changing. A criminal record presents challenges when it comes to professional licensing issues, as well as signing up for military service.
In some respects, pretrial intervention is akin to a second chance. PTI is only available to defendants who are charged with particular levels of indictable crimes. In New Jersey, there is no such thing as a felony charge. However, the term indictable is generally considered to have a similar meaning.
Who is Eligible for Pretrial Intervention?
In New Jersey, PTI is considered a diversionary program. Basically, the idea is that it is possible to rehabilitate a defendant so they do not repeat the negative behavior that resulted in their arrest. In summary, NJSA 2C:43-12 states that Pretrial Intervention allows the defendant to replace prosecution with rehabilitation. This is why the program generally limits supervision to first-time offenders.
Not every defendant facing criminal charges is eligible for PTI. For example, if there are related domestic violence charges that include a restraining order, the defendant will be excluded from entering into Pretrial Intervention. You can read more about domestic violence and PTI here.
New Jersey breaks down criminal charges by various degrees. As it stands, a first-degree crime is the most serious. Only those charged with third or fourth-degree crimes are eligible for Pretrial Intervention. These are some examples of third and fourth-degree criminal charges:
- Some drug possession and distribution charges
- Certain criminal mischief offenses
- Shoplifting items between specified dollar amounts
- Aggravated assault
The preceding represent just some of the charges that fall into the category of third or fourth-degree criminal charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney can advise you further regarding your eligibility for PTI.
The Benefits of PTI
The New Jersey courts boast some successes with the PTI program. According to the State’s Judicial website, the first benefit is the defendant does not have to worry about a criminal record. Additionally, the courts themselves are relieved of time and money involved in trial costs.
If you are facing criminal charges, it’s not the court costs that are first in your mind. Without question, you want to avoid incarceration. In fact, there’s a good chance that you’ll gladly agree to a supervision program and never commit an offense again.
Are You Facing Criminal Charges?
Whether you are a first offender or not, the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone can help you. Let our nearly three decades of criminal defense experience work for you. Contact us to schedule an appointment.