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No PTI Application After Guilty Verdict

No PTI Application After Guilty Verdict

Sean Bell was indicted for second-degree aggravated assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1)) and third-degree aggravated assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(7)) after fighting with another man at a party. Bell tried the case based on the second-degree charge which prevented his application to the Pre-Trial Intervention program (PTI)(N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12 to -22). During trial in State v. Bell, the second-degree charges were dismissed but Bell was convicted of the third-degree charges and made application to the PTI program. The Law Division admitted Bell to PTI in part due to Bell’s reliance on State v. Halm, 319 N.J. Super. 569 (App. Div.), cert. denied, 162 N.J. 131 (1999). The State appealed based on the application being filed out of time under N.J. Court Rule 3:28(h) and State v. Wallace, 146 N.J. 576 (1996), wherein a dismissal of a second-degree offense was found not to justify a PTI application out of time. The NJ Appellate Division reversed finding Pre-Trial Intervention applications were required to be made prior to trial. On appeal, the State distinguished Halm by the timing of the defendant’s PTI applications as well as the nature of the underlying charges. After substantial consideration of the purpose of diversionary programs, the NJ Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Division’s holding that the purpose of PTI was to offer defendants an opportunity to avoid the stigma of a guilty verdict and prevent use of additional judicial resources at trials. Further, the NJ Supreme Court held that permitting defendants to seek PTI after a guilty verdict would modify the program into an unintended “alternative sentencing option”. Assault and aggravated assault charges are very serious and bear severe consequences including long-term incarceration. If you are facing charges of assault or aggravated assault, you should obtain experienced criminal defense counsel immediately to insure your rights are protected. For more information about assault, aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon or other serious 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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