Conditional Dismissal – New Program for New Jersey First time Offenders on Criminal Charges

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Conditional Dismissal – New Program for New Jersey First time Offenders on Criminal Charges

First time offenders now have  new option in New Jersey with the new Conditional Dismissal program for minor offenses in municipal court.

The new law establishes a conditional dismissal program in the municipal courts for eligible first-time defendants charged with KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAcertain disorderly persons offenses. The program compliments existing criminal justice diversion programs such as pretrial intervention (PTI) for certain indictable offenses in Superior Court under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12 et seq. and conditional discharge for certain disorderly persons drug offenses in the municipal courts under N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1.

Under the law, a defendant who is charged with a petty disorderly persons offense or a disorderly persons offense may apply to enter into the conditional dismissal program, provided that the person (1) has not been previously convicted of any petty disorderly persons offense, disorderly persons offense or crime and (2) has not previously participated in the conditional discharge, conditional dismissal, or PTI programs. Subsection b. of section 1 of the law also provides a list of offenses that are ineligible to be considered for participation in the conditional dismissal program, such as offenses involving domestic violence or driving under the influence of alcohol. Drug offenses graded as disorderly persons offenses are excluded from the conditional dismissal program since they are eligible for diversion under the conditional discharge statute.

The law provides that before making an application to the court for conditional dismissal, the defendant must be fingerprinted as provided in N.J.S.A. 53:1-15 to allow for verification of the defendant’s criminal history by the prosecutor. In addition, a person seeking admission to the conditional dismissal program must pay to the court an application fee of $75. The law allows a defendant to apply for a waiver of the fee by reason of poverty. The court may also permit the defendant to pay the conditional dismissal fee and other assessments in installments or order other alternatives pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2B:12-23.1. Under the law, conditional dismissal application fees will be deposited in the “Municipal Court Diversion Fund,” which is to be administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Monies in the Fund are to be used to offset the cost of intake and monitoring services related to the conditional dismissal program.

If a defendant meets the statutory eligibility criteria, the court would use its discretion to determine if the person should be approved to participate in the conditional dismissal program. In making this decision, the law requires that the court consider the list of factors in subsection c. of section 1 of the law which includes items such as the nature of the offense, the defendant’s background, and the interests of the victim and the public.

Under the law, after considering the defendant’s criminal history, the eligibility criteria and the prosecutor’s recommendation, the court may, without entering a judgment of conviction, and after proper reference to the State Bureau of Identification criminal history record information files, approve the defendant’s participation in the conditional dismissal program and place the defendant under a probation “monitoring” status for one year. In addition the law provides that the court may impose financial obligations and other terms and conditions. The law specifically provides that the court may impose an assessment, based on the nature of the offense and the character of the defendant, that shall not exceed the amount of a fine that would have been imposed for conviction of the offense charged. The law requires that a defendant must be advised of all financial conditions prior to seeking entry into the conditional dismissal program.

If the court approves a defendant’s participation in the conditional dismissal program over the municipal prosecutor’s objection, the law provides that the order approving the defendant’s participation in the program shall be a final order but upon the request of the municipal prosecutor, it shall be stayed for 10 days to permit the prosecutor to appeal such order to the Superior Court.

The law permits the defendant to apply to the court for an extension of the one-year conditional dismissal term to allow additional time to pay financial obligations imposed by the court. In addition, the law allows a judge to extend the term for good cause.

Under the law, if a defendant who is participating in the conditional dismissal program is convicted of any petty disorderly persons offense, disorderly persons offense or crime, or otherwise fails to comply with the terms and conditions imposed by the court, the court can enter a judgment of conviction and impose a fine, penalty, or other assessment in accordance with the dIf, at the end of the term of conditional dismissal, the defendant has not been convicted of any subsequent offense, and has complied with any other terms and conditions imposed by the court, the law authorizes the court to terminate the probation monitoring and dismiss the proceedings against the defendant.

Under the new law, the conditional dismissal of a disorderly persons offense is not deemed a conviction for purposes of disqualifications or disabilities, but must be reported to the State Bureau of Identification criminal history record information files for the purposes of determining future eligibility or exclusion from court diversion programs. In addition, the law states that a conditional dismissal is not deemed a conviction for the purposes of determining whether a second or subsequent offense has occurred under any law of this State. The law also amends section b. of N.J.S.A. 2C:52-6 (Expungement; Arrests not resulting in conviction) to clarify that a person who has had charges dismissed pursuant to a program of conditional discharge or conditional dismissal may apply for an expungement six months after the entry of the order of dismissal.

Finally, the law clarifies that conditional dismissal can only be granted once with respect to any defendant. It also makes complimentary amendments to the PTI and conditional discharge statutes to limit any of the three first-time offender diversion programs to a mutually exclusive single use. In other words, using any one of these diversion programs prevents the subsequent use of any of the three diversion programs. Specifically, section a. of N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1, the conditional discharge law, is amended to provide that a person who has participated in a program of supervisory treatment (PTI) or conditional dismissal is not eligible for participation in the conditional discharge program. Similarly, the law amends N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12, PTI program criteria, to provide that supervisory treatment may only occur once and any person who has previously received supervisory treatment, conditional dismissal or conditional discharge is not eligible for subsequent supervisory treatment. The PTI and conditional discharge statutes are also amended to allow the payment of the application fee for these programs through installments.

Understanding Your Rights with a Drug Arrest. Conditional Discharge in NJ Section 36 (2C:36A-1).

If you are a first time offender in New Jersey you need to understand your rights. You may be eligible for what is called a “conditional discharge.” iStock_000014208743_SmallThis is an excellent option for your lawyer to look into in your case. The statute may allow you to enter into a diversionary program specifically developed for first-time offenders in minor drug offenses. The court will hold your records while you enter into a probationary period. If you complete the program, pay the necessary fines your charges will be discharged by the court. Below is the entire statue, but if you are interested in pursuing this option please feel free to contact Corey Morano, Esq. of The Morano Law Firm, LLC at 201-598-5019 or email coreymorano@gmail.com today.

2C:36A-1.  Conditional discharge for certain first offenses; expunging of records. a. Whenever any person who has not previously been convicted of any offense under section 20 of P.L.1970, c.226 (C.24:21-20), or a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense defined in chapter 35 or 36 of this title or, subsequent to the effective date of this title, under any law of the United States, this State or any other state relating to marijuana, or stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic drugs, is charged with or convicted of any disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense under chapter 35 or 36 of this title, the court upon notice to the prosecutor and subject to subsection c. of this section, may on motion of the defendant or the court:

(1)Suspend further proceedings and with the consent of the person after reference to the State Bureau of Identification criminal history record information files, place him under supervisory treatment upon such reasonable terms and conditions as it may require; or

(2)After plea of guilty or finding of guilty, and without entering a judgment of conviction, and with the consent of the person after proper reference to the State Bureau of Identification criminal history record information files, place him on supervisory treatment upon reasonable terms and conditions as it may require, or as otherwise provided by law.

b.In no event shall the court require as a term or condition of supervisory treatment under this section, referral to any residential treatment pointrugfacility for a period exceeding the maximum period of confinement prescribed by law for the offense for which the individual has been charged or convicted, nor shall any term of supervisory treatment imposed under this subsection exceed a period of three years.  If a person is placed under supervisory treatment under this section after a plea of guilty or finding of guilt, the court as a term and condition of supervisory treatment shall suspend the person’s driving privileges for a period to be fixed by the court at not less than six months or more than two years unless the court finds compelling circumstances warranting an exception. For the purposes of this subsection, compelling circumstances warranting an exception exist if the suspension of the person’s driving privileges will result in extreme hardship and alternative means of transportation are not available.  In the case of a person who at the time of placement under supervisory treatment under this section is less than 17 years of age, the period of suspension of driving privileges authorized herein, including a suspension of the privilege of operating a motorized bicycle, shall commence on the day the person is placed on supervisory treatment and shall run for a period as fixed by the court of not less than six months or more than two years after the day the person reaches the age of 17 years.

If the driving privilege of a person is under revocation, suspension, or postponement for a violation of this title or Title 39 of the Revised Statutes at the time of the person’s placement on supervisory treatment under this section, the revocation, suspension or postponement period imposed herein shall commence as of the date of the termination of the existing revocation, suspension or postponement.  The court which places a person on supervisory treatment under this section shall collect and forward the person’s driver’s license to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and file an appropriate report with the commission in accordance with the procedure set forth in N.J.S.2C:35-16. The court shall also inform the person of the penalties for operating a motor vehicle during the period of license suspension or postponement as required in N.J.S.2C:35-16.

Upon violation of a term or condition of supervisory treatment the court may enter a judgment of conviction and proceed as otherwise provided, or where there has been no plea of guilty or finding of guilty, resume proceedings. Upon fulfillment of the terms and conditions of supervisory treatment the court shall terminate the supervisory treatment and dismiss the proceedings against him. Termination of supervisory treatment and dismissal under this section shall be without court adjudication of guilt and shall not be deemed a conviction for purposes of disqualifications or disabilities, if any, imposed by law upon conviction of a crime or disorderly persons offense but shall be reported by the clerk of the court to the State Bureau of Identification criminal history record information files. Termination of supervisory treatment and dismissal under this section may occur only once with respect to any person.  Imposition of supervisory treatment under this section shall not be deemed a conviction for the purposes of determining whether a second or subsequent offense has occurred under section 29 of P.L.1970, c.226 (C.24:21-29), chapter 35 or 36 of this title or any law of this State.

c.Proceedings under this section shall not be available to any defendant unless the court in its discretion concludes that:

(1)The defendant’s continued presence in the community, or in a civil treatment center or program, will not pose a danger to the community; or

(2)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 which he may manifest; and

(3)The person has not previously received supervisory treatment under section 27 of P.L.1970, c.226 (C.24:21-27), N.J.S.2C:43-12, or the provisions of this chapter.

d.A person seeking conditional discharge pursuant to this section shall pay to the court a fee of $75.  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 of each 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 fee shall be paid to the court, for use by the State.

L. 1987, c.106, s.3; amended 1988, c.44, s.12; 1993, c.275, s.14; 2008, c.84, s.1.

If you or anyone you know needs information about a recent drug arrest in New Jersey contact Corey Morano, Esq. of The Morano Law Firm, LLC at 201-598-5019 or email coreymorano@gmail.com today for a free consultation.