Conditional Discharge vs. Pretrial Intervention

A criminal conviction can have a permanent, negative effect on an individual’s life. It can prevent the individual from obtaining certain types of employment and severely limit his or her housing opportunities.

In New Jersey, first-time offenders have the opportunity to avoid conviction by completing one of two programs: conditional discharge or pretrial intervention. Each has its own requirements for admission and completion. The purpose of these programs is to allow individuals to be rehabilitated, rather than punished.

Conditional Discharge

If the individual’s charge is for a drug-related disorderly persons offense, he or she may be a candidate for a conditional discharge. This is a program that allows first-time drug offenders to have their charges dropped if they comply with certain requirements set forth by the court.

The requirements an individual must meet to qualify for a conditional discharge are:

  • He or she has never diverted a charge in the past.

  • He or she does not have any prior CDS convictions

  • He or she must comply with the terms of the conditional discharge

  • He or she must agree to the required court supervision as he or she completes the program

During the supervisory period, the defendant is on probation. This can last for six months to two years, during which time he or she may be subject to random drug testing. Individuals who do not meet these requirements may have their cases returned to court and prosecuted.

Pretrial Intervention

New Jersey’s pretrial intervention program is similar to its conditional discharge program, but it is instead designed for individuals who are charged with indictable offenses.

The pretrial intervention program places the defendant on probation for a period of up to three years. During this time, he or she must comply with the terms given to him or her by the court. The terms an individual may be given for his or her pretrial intervention may include mandatory urine tests, mandatory community service hours, psychological counseling, a drug education course, and fines.

Not everybody is eligible for pretrial intervention. To qualify for the program, an individual must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least eighteen years old

  • First-time offender

  • No previous conviction diversions

  • He or she must have been charged with the offense in New Jersey

  • He or she must be a New Jersey resident.

Any individual in this program who does not comply with its terms may have his or her case returned to the court and face criminal prosecution.

If you are a first-time offender in New Jersey, a pretrial intervention or a conditional discharge may be a great opportunity for you to avoid a conviction. After completing either of these programs, there is a strong likelihood that you can then have your charge expunged from your criminal record. To learn more about either program and the expungement process in New Jersey, contact The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC. at 732-370-9596 to schedule your initial legal consultation with a member of our firm. We proudly serve clients throughout Ocean, Monmouth, Mercer, Middlesex, and Burlington counties.

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