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Conditional Dismissal in NJ Municipal Court Effective January 4, 2014

Conditional Dismissal in NJ Municipal Court Effective January 4, 2014

On September 6, 2013, Governor Christie signed into effect A-3598, establishing a Conditional Dismissal program in NJ municipal courts. The law became effective on January 4, 2014 and applies to those convicted of or pleading guilty to disorderly or petty disorderly offenses. The Conditional Discharge in municipal court was previously available only for drug offenders in municipal court pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1. However, those convicted of or pleading guilty to certain greater offenses in the NJ Superior Court were eligible for Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI). Now the playing field for eligible first offenders is level between the courts. Conditional Discharge and PTI are one time programs available to those accused of criminal offenses. Once they are utilized, defendants are ineligible to use them again. Additionally, use of PTI renders you ineligible for Conditional Discharge and the converse is true as well. Also, domestic violence and driving under the influence (DUI) defendants are not eligible for Conditional Dismissal. Although an individual may be eligible for Conditional Dismissal, the court retains discretion as to whether a defendant is admitted based on criteria including the nature of the offense, the interests of the victim, the defendant’s history and public interest. This program is a diversionary program wherein defendants are placed on probation for a period of one year wherein certain requirements must be met or the defendant will be expelled from the program and returned to court to face the original charges against them. Additionally, those pleading to or found guilty of other offenses during their probationary term will be expelled from the diversionary program. Although this program helps avoid a criminal record, fingerprinting is required under N.J.S.A. 53:1-15 and there are associated fees as well. Successful completion of the program will not be deemed a conviction on a defendant’s criminal record and will not be counted as a first conviction for sentencing purposes in the event of future convictions. However, a Conditional Dismissal will appear on their criminal record and bar eligibility for future diversionary programs. Criminal charges in NJ can have a serious, lasting and detrimental effect on your future. if you are facing criminal charges, whether in municipal or superior court, it is critical you obtain an experienced criminal defense attorney to help resolve your matter. For more information about Conditional Dismissal, Conditional Discharge, Pre-Trial Intervention or criminal charges in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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