Pretrial Intervention (PTI) is a discretionary, diversionary program available to offenders with minor criminal histories and/or first-time offenders who are charged with third- or fourth-degree offenses. An individual with a prior conditional discharge from municipal court is ineligible for PTI. Additionally, PTI is only available once during an individual’s lifetime. The program is designed to provide suitable defendants with an opportunity to avoid ordinary prosecution by receiving early rehabilitative services and to relieve the overburdened criminal calendar of less serious offenses.
More serious offenses require prosecutorial permission to apply for PTI. A defendant charged with first or second degree charges is deemed presumptively ineligible for admission. A defendant must demonstrate compelling reasons to allow admittance into the PTI program and must demonstrate something extraordinary or unusual, something idiosyncratic in his or her background to rebut the presumption against diversion.
PTI enrollment can last between one and three years. A guilty plea is not required for admission. The Probation Department administers the program but PTI applications are screened and approved by assistant prosecutors. Conditions of the program can include drug/alcohol evaluations, counseling, urine monitoring, restitution, community service or other requirements likely to assure rehabilitation and recompense the victim.
If an individual successfully completes PTI, the original criminal charges are dismissed and no conviction appears on the individual’s criminal history. If an individual does not complete the program successfully or is charged with a new offense, the original charges are generally restored to the trial calendar. Rejections to PTI may be appealed to a superior court judge who will determine if the prosecutor abused his/her discretion in rejecting the application.
The statute that governs PTI policies, admission criteria and termination procedures is N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12 et. seq. Please refer to the New Jersey Judiciary’s website for more information.