Pretrial Intervention, also known as “PTI” is a diversionary program available at the Superior Court level for defendants charged with indictable offenses. This can include heroin possession, forgery, theft, terrorist threats, shoplifting, prescription fraud, credit card fraud, and marijuana distribution. Run through the County Prosecutor’s Office, the PTI is a way to divert cases they may not have an interest in prosecuting. This generally means first-time offenders who aren’t charged with a crime that carries a presumption of incarceration upon conviction.
Defendants charged with certain crimes like first or second-degree offenses, and even more serious crimes like burglary, robbery, aggravated assault, and unlawful possession of a weapon are normally not eligible for Pretrial Intervention. Exceptions for a PTI are often made depending on the circumstances. The right criminal attorney can often challenge weaknesses in the state’s case to negotiate into PTI for a charge that normally would not receive consideration.
What’s the purpose of a Pretrial Intervention Program
The goal of the Pretrial Intervention program is to offer early rehabilitative intervention. This is usually for defendants who may otherwise be a good people, but may have made a terrible decision that shouldn’t affect them for the rest of their lives. Sounds merciful, doesn’t it? The PTI offices put a lot of importance in examining the social, cultural, and economic conditions that may have caused the defendant’s decision to commit an offense. They attempt to resolve the issue. The departments handling Pretrial Intervention cases closely monitors defendants to help solve their personal problems that lead to the cause of the crime. This ensures that there is no criminal involvement in the future.
PTI’s in New Jersey
Now let’s start talking about PTI in New Jersey. Under the PTI statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12, when deciding an applicant’s admission into the program, the prosecutor and program directors consider the applicant’s amenability to correction, responsiveness to rehabilitation, and the nature of the offense.
It begins with a defendant filing an application for the Pretrial Intervention program. Any defendant can file for PTI, even for a crime that might not be eligible. After the application is filed, you will be scheduled an appointment where you will be interviewed by either a PTI Investigator or Probation Officer. Once the interview process is completed, the probation department will run a background check to verify the information they have been provided. If it is found that the defendant may suffer from substance abuse or psychological problems based on the interview, background and current charges, they will make a note that a substance or evaluation is needed. A PTI application can take up to six weeks to process.
So how do you get admitted? First you complete the application. After, the PTI Supervisor, the County Prosecutor and the Judge reviews it. Then you must first talk to your assigned Probation Officer. They will make sure you meet your requirements such as urine testing, community service, and payment of fines. What happens if you fail to meet the requirements of PTI? Then you will receive a program termination and your indictable charges will be re-opened before the court. Some of the eligibility requirements include: facing charges in New Jersey, being charged with an offense that is not likely to result in a suspended sentence without probation or fine. The defendants also must not have previous convictions.
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