NJSA 2C:43-12, 2C:43-13, 2C:43-14, 2C:43-16, 2C:43-17, 2C:43-18, 2C:43-20, 2C:43-22 Pre-trial Intervention, NJ Court Rule 3:28
Kenneth Vercammen's Law office represents individuals charged with criminal and serious traffic violations throughout New Jersey.
Under New Jersey Criminal Statute and Court Rules, someone charged with an indictable criminal offense who has no prior indictable offenses can apply for Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI).
This Statute permits someone under limited instances to have the prosecution stopped and enter into a probation type program. If someone successfully completes PTI, the indictable criminal charge is dismissed.
PTI is not available if the criminal offense is a disorderly person offense, such as simple assault, harassment or shoplifting. For persons facing a first offense possession of marijuana charge, they can apply for a Conditional Discharge. NJSA 2C: 36-1. As a practical matter, in Municipal Courts, the defense attorneys sometimes can work out an agreement with the complainant in a municipal court criminal ticket to have the prosecution put on hold for six months. If the defendant complies with a stipulated agreement, such as staying away from the complainant, after 6 months the criminal charges are dismissed.
It is imperative for someone facing criminal charges, whether indictable or not, to immediately hire an experienced criminal attorney.
Do not rely on a real estate attorney to be familiar with recent cases affecting PTI and criminal law.
PTI should be applied for immediately with Criminal Case Management. The Court Rules have time limits for PTI application and appeals from denial of PTI. Procedurally, once the accused applies for PTI, a decision to accept or reject is made by the Criminal Case Manager.
If approved, then the County Prosecutors office must approve. Thereafter, the Superior Court Judge assigned to the case must approve the defendant.
If the defendant is rejected by either the Criminal Case Manager or the Prosecutor, a timely appeal must be filed with the Superior Court Judge.
In Practice, my law office has submitted letters of reference, proof of employment, a resume and other supporting documents to the Criminal Case Manager. Similar to sentencing, you want to provide any beneficial facts and papers to demonstrate the defendant is a first time offender who is unlikely to again be involved in a criminal case.
Similar to Probation following a guilty plea or conviction, the Court can require the defendant to perform certain acts. Typical re-trial orders direct the defendant to not get arrested, undergo drug and alcohol testing and counseling, pay restitution or perform other acts.
Non-compliance will result in dismissal from PTI. Thereafter, the defendant must face trial on all indictable charges.
CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE OF DRUG CHARGES IN MUNICIPAL COURT
The defense of a person charged with possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia is a difficult but not impossible task for a defense. There are a number of viable defenses, arguments and alternatives which can be pursued to achieve a successful result. Advocacy, commitment, and persistence are essential to an attorney defending a client accused of involvement with controlled dangerous substances (CDS).
If the Suppression Motion is unsuccessful or not a viable option, counsel should discuss the possibility of obtaining a Conditional Discharge.
Some people are charged with possession of small amounts of marijuana. N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1 provides that a person not previously convicted of a drug offense either under Title 2C or Title 24 and who has not previously been granted supervisory treatment under N.J.S.A. 24:21-27, 2C:43-12 or 2C:36A-1 may apply for a conditional discharge.
The court upon notice to the prosecutor and subject to 2C:36A-1(c) may, on the motion of the defendant or the court, suspend further proceedings and place the defendant on supervisory treatment (i.e., probation,, supervised or unsupervised attendance at Narcotics Anonymous, etc.). Since the granting of a conditional discharge is optional with the court, defense counsel should be prepared to prove, through letters, documents, or even witnesses, that the defendants continued presence in the community or in a civil treatment program, will not pose a danger to the community.
Defense counsel should be prepared to convince the court that the terms and conditions of supervisory treatment will be adequate to protect the public and will benefit the defendant by serving to correct any dependence on or use of controlled substances. For applicable caselaw on conditional discharges, see State v. Sanders, N.J. Super. 515 (App. Div. 1979), State v. Banks, 157 N.J. Super. 442 (Law Div. 1978), State v. Grochulski, 133 N.J. Super. 586 (Law Div. 1975), State v. Teitelbaum, 160 N.J. Super. 450 (Law Div. 1978), State v. DiLuzio, 130 N.J. Super. 220 (Law Div. 1974). The defendant must be required to pay a $45.00 application fee, plus the mandatory $500.00 DEDR penalty. The court further has the option to suspend a defendants drivers license for between six months and two years.
The conditional discharge period is also between six months and two years. If the defendant is convicted of a drug offense during the CD period or violates the conditions set by the court, the prosecution resumes. The defendant may even apply for a conditional discharge after he/she is found guilty, but before sentence is imposed. If the CD is granted at this point in the proceeding, the 6 to 24 month license suspension is mandatory.
Drug related offenses carry substantial penalties which will effect a client for the rest of his life. The space limits of this article do not allow detailed explanation of the extensive caselaw on controlled dangerous substances. Members of the Bar must accept the challenge and apply their legal talents to ensure that the rights of their clients are protected.
Pre-trial intervention is an excellent opportunity for someone to avoid a trial and conviction. If facing criminal charges, quickly sit down with a criminal attorney to protect your rights. If accepted into Pre-Trial Intervention, Motions to Suppress Evidence and other Motions are put on hold.
2C:43-12. Supervisory treatment - pretrial intervention 2C:43-12. Supervisory Treatment--Pretrial Intervention. a. Public policy. The purpose of sections 2C:43-12 through 2C:43-22 of this chapter is to effectuate a Statewide program of Pretrial Intervention. It is the policy of the State of New Jersey that supervisory treatment should ordinarily be limited to persons who have not previously been convicted of any criminal offense under the laws of New Jersey, or under any criminal law of the United States, or any other state when supervisory treatment would:
(1) Provide applicants, on an equal basis, with opportunities to avoid ordinary prosecution by receiving early rehabilitative services or supervision, when such services or supervision can reasonably be expected to deter future criminal behavior by an applicant, and when there is apparent causal connection between the offense charged and the rehabilitative or supervisory need, without which cause both the alleged offense and the need to prosecute might not have occurred; or
(2) Provide an alternative to prosecution for applicants who might be harmed by the imposition of criminal sanctions as presently administered, when such an alternative can be expected to serve as sufficient sanction to deter criminal conduct; or
(3) Provide a mechanism for permitting the least burdensome form of prosecution possible for defendants charged with victimless offenses; or
(4) Provide assistance to criminal calendars in order to focus expenditure of criminal justice resources on matters involving serious criminality and severe correctional problems; or
(5) Provide deterrence of future criminal or disorderly behavior by an applicant in a program of supervisory treatment.
b. Admission of an applicant into a program of supervisory treatment shall be measured according to the applicants amenability to correction, responsiveness to rehabilitation and the nature of the offense.
c. The decision and reasons therefor made by the designated judges (or assignment judges), prosecutors and program directors in granting or denying applications for supervisory treatment, in recommending and ordering termination from the program or dismissal of charges, in all cases shall be reduced to writing and disclosed to the applicant.
d. If an applicant desires to challenge the decision of the prosecutor or program director not to recommend enrollment in a program of supervisory treatment the proceedings prescribed under section 14 shall be followed.
e. Referral. At any time prior to trial but after the filing of a criminal complaint, or the filing of an accusation or the return of an indictment, with the consent of the prosecutor and upon written recommendation of the program director, the assignment judge or a judge designated by him may postpone all further proceedings against an applicant and refer said applicant to a program of supervisory treatment approved by the Supreme Court. Prosecutors and program directors shall consider in formulating their recommendation of an applicants participation in a supervisory treatment program, among others, the following criteria:
(1) The nature of the offense;
(2) The facts of the case;
(3) The motivation and age of the defendant;
(4) The desire of the complainant or victim to forego prosecution;
(5) The existence of personal problems and character traits which may be related to the applicants crime and for which services are unavailable within the criminal justice system, or which may be provided more effectively through supervisory treatment and the probability that the causes of criminal behavior can be controlled by proper treatment;
(6) The likelihood that the applicants crime is related to a condition or situation that would be conducive to change through his participation in supervisory treatment;
(7) The needs and interests of the victim and society;
(8) The extent to which the applicants crime constitutes part of a continuing pattern of anti-social behavior;
(9) The applicants record of criminal and penal violations and the extent to which he may present a substantial danger to others;
(10) Whether or not the crime is of an assaultive or violent nature, whether in the criminal act itself or in the possible injurious consequences of such behavior;
(11) Consideration of whether or not prosecution would exacerbate the social problem that led to the applicants criminal act;
(12) The history of the use of physical violence toward others;
(13) Any involvement of the applicant with organized crime;
(14) Whether or not the crime is of such a nature that the value of supervisory treatment would be outweighed by the public need for prosecution;
(15) Whether or not the applicants involvement with other people in the crime charged or in other crime is such that the interest of the State would be best served by processing his case through traditional criminal justice system procedures;
(16) Whether or not the applicants participation in pretrial intervention will adversely affect the prosecution of codefendants; and
(17) Whether or not the harm done to society by abandoning criminal prosecution would outweigh the benefits to society from channeling an offender into a supervisory treatment program.
f. Review of Supervisory Treatment Applications; Procedure Upon Denial. Each applicant for supervisory treatment shall be entitled to full and fair consideration of his application. If an application is denied, the program director or the prosecutor shall precisely state his findings and conclusion which shall include the facts upon which the application is based and the reasons offered for the denial. If the applicant desires to challenge the decision of a program director not to recommend, or of a prosecutor not to consent to, enrollment into a supervisory treatment program, a motion shall be filed before the designated judge (or assignment judge) authorized pursuant to the rules of court to enter orders.
g. Limitations. Supervisory treatment may occur only once with respect to any defendant and any person who has previously received supervisory treatment under section 27 of P.L.1970, c.226 (C.24:21-27), shall not be eligible for supervisory treatment under this section. However, supervisory treatment, as provided herein, shall be available to a defendant irrespective of whether the defendant contests his guilt of the charge or charges against him.
h. Termination. Termination of supervisory treatment under this section shall be immediately reported to the assignment judge of the county who shall forward such information to the Administrative Director of the Courts.
i. Appointment of Program Directors; Authorized Referrals. Programs of supervisory treatment and appointment of the program directors require approval by the Supreme Court with the consent of the assignment judge and prosecutor. Referrals of participants from supervisory treatment programs may be to any public or private office or agency, including but not limited to, programs within the probation service of the court, offering counseling or any other social service likely to aid in the rehabilitation of the participant and to deter the commission of other offenses.
j. Health Care Professional Licensing Board Notification. The program director shall promptly notify the State Board of Medical Examiners when a State licensed physician or podiatrist has been enrolled in a supervisory treatment program after he has been charged with an offense involving drugs or alcohol.
Amended 1979, c.178, s.88; 1987,c.106,s.14; 1989,c.300,s.22.
2C:43-13. Supervisory treatment procedure 2C:43-13. Supervisory Treatment Procedure a. Agreement. The terms and duration of the supervisory treatment shall be set forth in writing, signed by the prosecutor and agreed to and signed by the participant. Payment of the assessment required by section 2 of P.L.1979, c.396 (C.2C:43-3.1) shall be included as a term of the agreement. If the participant is represented by counsel, defense counsel shall also sign the agreement. Each order of supervisory treatment shall be filed with the county clerk.
b. Charges. During a period of supervisory treatment the charge or charges on which the participant is undergoing supervisory treatment shall be held in an inactive status pending termination of the supervisory treatment pursuant to subsection d. or e. of this section.
c. Period of treatment. Supervisory treatment may be for such period, as determined by the designated judge or the assignment judge, not to exceed three years, provided, however, that the period of supervisory treatment may be shortened or terminated as the program director may determine with the consent of the prosecutor and the approval of the court.
d. Dismissal. Upon completion of supervisory treatment, and with the consent of the prosecutor, the complaint, indictment or accusation against the participant may be dismissed with prejudice.
e. Violation of conditions. Upon violation of the conditions of supervisory treatment, the court shall determine, after summary hearing, whether said violation warrants the participants dismissal from the supervisory treatment program or modification of the conditions of continued participation in that or another supervisory treatment program. Upon dismissal of the participant from the supervisory treatment program, the charges against the participant may be reactivated and the prosecutor may proceed as though no supervisory treatment had been commenced.
f. Evidence. No statement or other disclosure by a participant undergoing supervisory treatment made or disclosed to the person designated to provide such supervisory treatment shall be disclosed, at any time, to the prosecutor in connection with the charge or charges against the participant, nor shall any such statement or disclosure be admitted as evidence in any civil or criminal proceeding against the participant. Nothing provided herein, however, shall prevent the person providing supervisory treatment from informing the prosecutor, or the court, upon request or otherwise as to whether or not the participant is satisfactorily responding to supervisory treatment.
g. Delay. No participant agreeing to undergo supervisory treatment shall be permitted to complain of a lack of speedy trial for any delay caused by the commencement of supervisory treatment.
A person applying for admission to a program of supervisory treatment shall pay to the court a fee of $75.00. The court shall forward all money collected under this subsection to the treasurer of the county in which the court is located. This money shall be used to defray the cost of juror compensation within that county. A person may apply for a waiver of this fee, by reason of poverty, pursuant to the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey. Of the moneys collected under this subsection, $30.00 of each application fee shall be deposited in the temporary reserve fund created by section 25 of P.L.1993, c.275. After December 31, 1994,the $75.00 fee shall be paid to the court, for use by the State.
Amended 1979,c.178,s.89; 1988,c.44,s.15; 1991,c.329,s.5; 1993,c.275,s.15.
2C:43-14. Authority of supreme court The Supreme Court may adopt rules dealing with Supervisory Treatment in accordance with procedures herein set forth.
L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:43-14, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. 2C:43-15. Presentation of proposed rules at judicial conference 2C:43-15. The subject matter and a tentative draft of a rule or rules proposed to be adopted pursuant to this chapter shall be entered upon the agenda and discussed at a Judicial Conference whose membership shall at least include delegates from the Supreme Court, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court, the judges of the Superior Court, the judges of the municipal courts, the surrogates, the State Bar Association, the county bar associations, the Senate and General Assembly, the Attorney General, the county prosecutors, the law schools of this State, and members of the public.
Amended 1979,c.178,s.90; 1991,c.91,s.145.
2C:43-16. Public announcement of proposed rules; delivery of copies The proposed rule or rules shall be publicly announced by the Supreme Court on September 15 next following such Judicial Conference (or, if such day be a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, on the first day thereafter that is not), and the court shall, on the same day, cause true copies thereof to be delivered to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly, and the Governor.
L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:43-16, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.
2C:43-17. Effective date of rules; rules subject to cancellation by joint resolution The rule or rules so announced and delivered shall take effect on July 1 next following; provided, however, that all such rules shall remain subject to cancellation at any time up to such effective date by joint resolution to that effect adopted by the Senate and General Assembly and signed by the Governor.
L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:43-17, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. 2C:43-18. Change or cancellation of rules by statute or adoption of subsequent rules Any rule or rules so proposed or adopted shall be subject to change or cancellation at any time by statute or by a subsequent rule adopted pursuant to this chapter.
L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:43-18, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by L.1979, c. 178, s. 91, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.
2C:43-19. Adoption of rules at such time, or with such effective date, or without presentation at judicial conference, as may be provided in joint resolution By joint resolution adopted by the Senate and General Assembly and signed by the Governor with respect to a particular rule or rules therein specified the Supreme Court may adopt such rule or rules at such time or times, or with such effective date, or without presentation at a Judicial Conference, as may be provided in the joint resolution.
L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:43-19, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.
2C:43-20. Reduction or elimination of time during which rules may be canceled by joint resolution By joint resolution adopted by the Senate and General Assembly and signed by the Governor with respect to a particular rule or rules therein specified, the period of time as provided in 2C:43-17 during which the same may be canceled by joint resolution may be reduced or eliminated.
L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:43-20, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. 2C:43-21. Index and reports a. Index. The Administrative Director of the Courts shall establish and maintain an index of cases in which applications for supervisory treatment have been made and such index shall indicate the dispositions of those applications.
b. Reports. At the termination of the year in which this chapter takes effect and at the termination of each calendar year thereafter, for a period of 5 years, the assignment judge for each county shall report the results of the rehabilitative effort prescribed in this act to the Administrative Director of the Courts. The report shall include a description of offenses for which supervisory treatment was prescribed, the type of treatment to which defendants were assigned, the number and types of criminal acts, if any, committed by persons during their period of supervisory treatment, the number of persons successfully completing supervisory treatment and against whom charges were dismissed, and, where possible, the number and types of criminal acts, if any, committed by such persons subsequent to successful completion of supervisory treatment.
c. Evaluation. The Administrative Director of the Courts shall, from time to time as he deems necessary, or upon request from the Legislature, evaluate the program of supervisory treatment on the basis of reports made to him by county and municipal prosecutors. He shall submit his evaluation, together with special findings and recommendations to the Legislature.
d. No order of expungement or sealing shall affect any entry in the index or any registry of such information established by the Administrative Office of the Courts.
L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:43-21, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by L.1979, c. 178, s. 92, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.
2C:43-22. Disclaimer Nothing contained in this act is intended to supersede, repeal or modify the authority granted and procedure prescribed under section 27 of P.L.1970, c. 226 (C. 24:21-27).
L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:43-22, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.
RULE 3:28. PRETRIAL INTERVENTION PROGRAMS
(a) Each Assignment Judge shall designate a judge or judges to act on all matters pertaining to pretrial intervention programs in the vicinage in accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12 and -13.
(b) Where a defendant charged with a penal or criminal offense has been accepted by the program, the designated judge may, on the recommendation of the criminal division manager and with the consent of the prosecutor and the defendant, postpone all further proceedings against said defendant on such charges for a period not to exceed thirty-six months.
(c) At the conclusion of the period set forth in paragraph (b) or earlier upon motion of the criminal division manager, the designated judge shall make one of the following dispositions:
(1) On recommendation of the criminal division manager and with the consent of the prosecutor and the defendant, dismiss the complaint, indictment or accusation against the defendant, such a dismissal to be designated matter adjusted-complaint (or indictment or accusation) dismissed; or
(2) On recommendation of the criminal division manager and with the consent of the prosecutor and the defendant, further postpone all proceedings against such defendant on such charges for an additional period of time as long as the aggregate of postponement periods under the rule does not exceed thirty-six months; or
(3) On the written recommendation of the criminal division manager or the prosecutor or on the courts own motion order the prosecution of the defendant to proceed in the ordinary course. Where a recommendation for such an order is made by the criminal division manager or the prosecutor, such person shall, before submitting such recommendation to the designated judge, provide the defendant or defendants attorney with a copy of such recommendation, shall advise the defendant of the opportunity to be heard thereon, and the designated judge shall afford the defendant such a hearing.
(4) During the conduct of hearings subsequent to an order returning the defendant to prosecution in the ordinary course, no program records, investigative reports, reports made for a court or prosecuting attorney, or statements made by the defendant to program staff shall be admissible in evidence against such defendant.
(5) No statement or other disclosure regarding the charge or charges against the participant made or disclosed by a participant in pretrial intervention to a person designated to provide supervisory treatment shall be disclosed by such person at any time, to the prosecutor, nor shall any such statement or disclosure be admitted as evidence in any civil or criminal proceeding against the participant, provided that the criminal division manager shall not be prevented from informing the prosecutor, or the court, on request or otherwise, whether the participant is satisfactorily responding to supervisory treatment.
(d) Where proceedings have been postponed against a defendant for an additional period as provided in paragraph (c)(2), at the conclusion of such period the designated judge may not again postpone proceedings but shall make a disposition in accordance with paragraph (c)(1) or (3). The aggregate of postponement periods under this rule shall in no case exceed thirty-six months.
(e) The Administrative Director of the Courts shall establish and maintain a Pretrial Intervention Registry for the purpose of determining applications, enrollments and the degree of completion thereof by a defendant in a program approved by the Supreme Court in accordance with paragraph (a). The Pretrial Intervention Registry shall contain such information and material as directed by the Supreme Court. No order to expunge or seal records of arrest after dismissal of a complaint, indictment or accusation under paragraph (c) or (d) shall bar the retention of material and information in the Pretrial Intervention Registry for the purposes of determining a defendants prior applications to, enrollments in and the degree of completion of a Pretrial Intervention Program or for statistical reports required of the Administrative Director of the Courts, by law or the Supreme Court.
(f) When the criminal division manager and prosecutor reject an application for participation in the pretrial intervention program, there shall be no pretrial review by an appellate court if the rejection is upheld by the designated judge or the Assignment Judge. An order enrolling a defendant into the pretrial intervention program over the prosecutors objection shall be deemed final for purposes of appeal, as of right, and shall be automatically stayed for fifteen days following its entry and thereafter pending appellate review.
(g) Denial of acceptance pursuant to this rule may be reviewed on appeal from a judgment of conviction notwithstanding that such judgment is entered following a plea of guilty.
(h) Application for pretrial intervention shall be made at the earliest possible opportunity, including before indictment, but in any event no later than twenty-eight days after indictment. The criminal division manager shall complete the evaluation and make a recommendation within twenty-five days of the filing of the application. The prosecutor shall complete a review of the application and inform the court and defendant within fourteen days of the receipt of the criminal division managers recommendation.
An appeal by the defendant shall be made on motion to the Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division or to the judge to whom the case has been assigned within ten days after the rejection and shall be made returnable at the next status conference or at such time as the judge determines will promote an expeditious disposition of the case.
Where application is made pre-indictment, the prosecutor may withhold action on the application until the matter has been presented to the grand jury.
The purposes of pretrial intervention are:
Guideline 1(a) states a rehabilitative model on which PTI programs in New Jersey are based. The rehabilitative model emphasizes that social, cultural and economic conditions often result in a defendants choice of environmental compulsion to commit crime. PTI seeks to solve personal problems which tend to result from the conditions that appear to cause crime.
Eligibility for PTI is broad enough to include all defendants who demonstrate sufficient effort to effect necessary behavioral change and show that future criminal behavior will not occur. Any defendant accused of crime shall be eligible for admission into a PTI program. When the application indicates factors which would ordinarily lead to exclusion under the guidelines established hereinafter, the applicant nevertheless shall have the opportunity to present to the criminal division manager, and through the criminal division manager to the prosecutor, any facts or materials demonstrating the defendants amenability to the rehabilitative process, showing compelling reasons justifying the defendants admission, and establishing that a decision against enrollment would be arbitrary and unreasonable.
Guideline 2 provides that each applicant for a PTI program is entitled to full and fair consideration of his or her application. When the application indicates factors that cause either the criminal division manager to reject the application or the prosecutor to deny consent to an enrollment, a statement particularizing the reasons for the rejection or the withholding of consent by the prosecutor must be furnished to the defendant. If the defendant wishes to challenge a rejection by the criminal division manager, or the prosecutors denial of consent to enrollment, the defendant may do so in accordance with the procedures set forth in guidelines 6 and 8. It is the duty of the applicant to allege and present any facts and materials to the criminal division manager for reconsideration either by the criminal division manager or prosecutor, if the prosecutor has denied consent, showing compelling reasons justifying admission, and establishing that a decision against enrollment would be arbitrary and unreasonable. The presentation of this material should be done concurrently with the filing of a motion under guideline 8 for review of a decision by a criminal division manager not to recommend or of a prosecutor not to consent to enrollment.
In evaluating a defendants application for participation in a pretrial intervention program, consideration shall be given to the criteria set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12(e). In addition thereto, the following factors shall also be considered together with other relevant circumstances:
Guideline 3, in its introductory statement, requires that the statutory criteria of N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12(e) be considered in the evaluation of a defendants application for pretrial intervention. That statutory provision requires consideration of those criteria among others. Accordingly, the original criteria of this guideline have also been retained as explanatory of and supplemental to the statutory criteria. For convenience in reference, the statutory criteria are as follows:
(15) Whether or not the applicants involvement with other people in the crime charged or in other crime is such that the interest of the State would be best served by processing his case through traditional criminal justice system procedures;
Guideline 3(f) sets forth a policy permitting probationers and parolees to enter PTI programs. Since the parolee/probationer is under the supervision of the District Parole Supervisor or Chief Probation Officer, consultation should be sought prior to recommending enrollment of the defendant into a PTI program.
Enrollment in PTI programs should be conditioned upon neither informal admission nor entry of a plea of guilty. Enrollment of defendants who maintain their innocence should be permitted unless the defendants attitude would render pretrial intervention ineffective.
A PTI program is presented to defendants as an opportunity to earn a dismissal of charges for social reasons and reasons of present and future behavior, legal guilt or innocence notwithstanding. This stance produces a relation of trust between counselor and defendant. Within the context of pretrial intervention when and whether guilt should be admitted is a decision for counselors. Counselors should be free to handle each case individually according to their best judgment.
Effective operation of pretrial intervention programs requires that a relationship of confidence and trust be initiated and maintained between participating defendants and staff. No information, therefore, obtained as a result of a defendants application to or participation in a pretrial intervention program should be used, in any subsequent proceeding, against his or her advantage.
That a relationship based on trust is necessary for the rehabilitation/attitude change process to operate cannot seriously be doubted, and the policy reflected in the admissibility and defendant protection provisions of R. 3:28 and R. 1:38 recognizes such a need. The priority of the maintenance of the counselor-participant relation over the need for disclosures resulting from this relationship is the same, of course, as the priority for the maintenance of, for example, the confidentiality of lawyer-client, physician/psychologist-patient communications. (Counselors should feel free to shroud their association in an air of confidentiality. Use of information gathered in this process would most likely be barred from future proceedings as contrary to basic standards of due process and fundamental fairness. See In the Interest of J.P.B., 143 N.J. Super. 96, 362 A.2d 1183 (App. Div. 1976). Of course, defendants who give false information on PTI applications may subject themselves to charges of perjury or false swearing in instances where supporting affidavits may be required by the criminal division manager. Affidavits relating to the facts and circumstances of the underlying offense shall not be required.)
Application for PTI should be made as soon as possible after commencement of proceedings, but, where an indictable offense is charged, not later than 28 days after indictment. All applications for PTI should be processed in the order of their filing. However, where the application is filed after an indictment has been returned, the PTI Program should complete its evaluation and make its recommendation thereon within 25 days after filing. The prosecutor should complete a review and advise the defendant within 14 days thereafter. An appeal by defendant to the trial court shall be brought within 10 days after the rejection notice and should be determined either before or at the pretrial conference.
To relieve defendants from the anxiety of facing prosecution, to apply appropriate rehabilitative measures at an early date, and to effect savings in criminal justice resources, PTI programs should endeavor to divert qualified defendants from the ordinary course of prosecution as soon as possible after the filing of a complaint. The court must advise defendant of the opportunity to be considered for PTI at the first appearance before the court. See R. 3:4-2. While a PTI application should be made before indictment, there are nevertheless problems involved in securing public defender counsel before arraignment. Thus, while pre-indictment filing is encouraged, the application may be made no later than 28 days after indictment, but not thereafter. This time requirement should permit all defendants sufficient opportunity to make a voluntary and informed choice concerning enrollment in a PTI program.
Where application is made in an indictable offense, the prosecutor may withhold action on the application until the matter has been presented to the grand jury.
Guideline 7 recognizes that at times it may be in the public interest to have a particular defendant screened out of the criminal justice system, either by administrative decision or grand jury action, rather than diverted into a PTI program. Thus, the prosecutor is given the discretion to choose an appropriate route and the court will not be burdened by hearing challenges if no indictment is to be returned. However, the option of delaying action until the grand jury has voted on the case should be considered only in rare instances. Generally, expeditious handling of PTI applications is in consonance with the purpose of diversion. Of course, if the prosecutor consents to the application, enrollment into a PTI program should not be delayed and the defendant should generally be enrolled before indictment.
The decisions and reasons therefor made by the designated judges (or Assignment Judges), prosecutors and criminal division managers in granting or denying defendants applications for PTI enrollment, in recommending and ordering termination from the program or dismissal of charges, in all cases must be reduced to writing and disclosed to defendant.
Guidelines 2, 3, 6 and 8 and Comments to Guidelines 2, 3, 5 and 6 amended July 13, 1994 to be effective January 1, 1995; Guidelines 3(g) and (h) and Comments to Guidelines 3(g) and (h) amended June 28, 1996 to be effective September 1, 1996.
1 Of course all defendants charged with an indictable offense are eligible for PTI.
Kenneth Vercammen is a Middlesex County trial attorney who has published 130 articles in national and New Jersey publications on Criminal Law and litigation topics. He was awarded the NJ State State Bar Municipal Court Practitioner of the Year. He lectures and handles criminal cases, Municipal Court, DWI, traffic and other litigation matters. He is Co Chair of the ABA Criminal Law Committee, GP and was a speaker at the ABA Annual Meeting. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us or New clients email us evenings and weekends go to www.njlaws.com/ContactKenV.htm
Kenneth Vercammen & Associates, P.C,
2053 Woodbridge Avenue,
Edison, NJ 08817,